Judge: Privacy on Social Networking Sites is “Wishful Thinking”


Many a “sick” employee, job seeker or college applicant has discovered that what happens on Facebook or Twitter often doesn’t stay on Facebook or Twitter. Now parties to lawsuits are finding the same thing.

A Suffolk County, New York trial judge recently ruled that the private areas of a plaintiff’s Facebook and MySpace profiles could be discovered by the defendants in her personal injury suit to prove she wasn’t injured as badly as she claimed.

In Romano v. Steelcase , Kathleen Romano fell off a desk chair at the college where she was employed. She sued the manufacturer and distributor for making a defective product, claiming permanent neck and back injuries that largely confined her to home or bed, and reduced her quality of life. Yet, the public pages of her Facebook and MySpace pages showed her happily traveling to Florida and Pennsylvania during times she claimed she was incapacitated.

The defendant then requested consent from Ms. Romano to access the private sections of her social networking sites to disprove the extent of her injuries. She refused, and the defendant filed a motion to show cause why this information should not be turned over.

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