- Journal Archives
- Volume 16
- Volume 15
- Volume 14
- Volume 13
- Volume 12
- Volume 11
- Volume 10
- Volume 9
- Volume 8
- Volume 7
- Volume 6
- Volume 5
- Volume 4
- Volume 3
- Volume 2
- Volume 1
Facebook has a message for any of its users considering a lawsuit against the company: tread lightly, because Facebook never forgets. Since a user’s profile history is never truly erased from Facebook’s records, that history can easily be brought to light during the discovery phase of a suit. As Facebook’s lawyers have discovered, the prospect of an exhaustive, public review of every wall post and private message ever sent by a user can serve as a valuable deterrent to suit.
Angel Fraley, a Seattle seamstress, learned this the hard way. Fraley was the plaintiff representative in a class-action suit against Facebook over its “Sponsored Stories” advertising practice. Fraley and the rest of the class have argued that the use of their likenesses in these paid advertisements without their consent violates their right to publicity under California law.
Fraley, however, has recently decided to drop from the suit. Why? Because of apparently embarrassing Facebook activity that the company’s lawyers unearthed from her profile history during discovery. Fraley explained, “I did not expect that every single post I had ever made on Facebook would potentially be rehashed in interrogatory responses and deposition . . . . Answering questions regarding my private posts or my decisions to click ‘Like’ buttons on certain pages or posts would subject me to embarrassment and invade my privacy.” Fraley, who describes her political views as “outside the mainstream,” says that she was “unwilling to defend [her] political views and lifestyle” in a suit against Facebook.
Incidentally, Fraley isn’t the first plaintiff to charge Facebook with attempting to derail a suit through intimidation. Paul Ceglia, who made a dubious claim of owning a large share of Facebook, said that he was forced to move to Ireland to escape harassment and surveillance by Facebook investigators.
While the practice of dredging through a plaintiff’s Facebook history for potential landmines may seem invasive of that user’s privacy, one can be sure that the company’s lawyers will continue doing so as long as it remains effective and legal.
– Henson Millsap
Recent Blog Posts
- $400 Million Settlement: E-book Price-Fixing May Cost Apple Big Time
- Kramer Sues Seinfeld Staff Writer for Defamation–and Loses
- Which “Duke” Will Reign?: Wayne Estate Seeks to Limit the Reach of Trademarks
- The Miss America Rule
- Possible Changes Coming to E-Discovery Rules
- “What Would Jesus Do” Trademark Win for Tyler Perry
Tagsadvertising antitrust Apple books career celebrities contracts copyright copyright infringement courts creative content criminal law entertainment Facebook FCC film/television financial First Amendment games Google government intellectual property internet JETLaw journalism lawsuits legislation media medicine Monday Morning JETLawg music NFL patents privacy progress publicity rights radio social networking sports Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) technology telecommunications trademarks Twitter U.S. Constitution