The following article, written by my colleague Nicole Moody, first appeared in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Thanks to Nicole for allowing us to republish it here.
Many of us have been there. Sipping our morning coffee, signing into our Facebook accounts, waiting to see what notifications will greet us. We are intrigued to see that we have a friend request. Who could it be? An acquaintance from the past? A new colleague who we met at work? Whoever it is, we know that by accepting the request we will be granted access into this individual’s life and will know more about them in five minutes than we would know in a lifetime of small talk.
Due to the use of usernames and passwords, there is a belief that information shared on Facebook is confidential unless publicly shared. However, courts around the country are now addressing just how private this information really is.
In cases nationwide, litigants are asking courts to grant unfettered access to other parties’ Facebook or other social media accounts. Inevitably, in the age of status updates and hashtags, poking and friending, the lines between public and private information have become blurred. This trend has become increasingly prevalent in the insurance industry as insurance companies have realized the usefulness of social media in litigation.