Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide: Man Gets Served With Lawsuit On Facebook

It had to happen eventually.  As civilization continues its migration to the virtual world of social networks, the lines between the physical world and the one that exists online are becoming increasingly blurred.  As new innovations continue to change the landscape of social networking, it seems that more and more of us are "living" a significant part of our lives on the Internet.  But, as our involvement in social networks increases, our ability to keep our lives private appears to be decreasing in an inversely proportional rate.  When many of the details of your personal life are recorded somewhere on the Internet, it becomes more difficult to protect that information from unwanted discovery.

Against this backdrop, an interesting news story has emerged: a man in the United Kingdom was recently served with a lawsuit through Facebook. How did this happen, you ask? Apparently, the man was extremely proficient at ducking his adversary's attempts at serving him in the traditional manner: through personal service.  Personal service is the type most people are familiar with: a process server who may or may not look like either Dog the Bounty Hunter or Seth Rogen's character from Pineapple Express appears at your door, hands you legal papers and brusquely announces "you've been served" (which unfortunately for you doesn't mean that you lost a dance-off competition). 

Where personal service proves difficult, in most jurisdictions a court has the ability to permit service of process through mail or publication.  In this case, however, apparently the man in question was able to evade even those efforts.  Apparently, the attorneys representing the plaintiff in the U.K. case were able to determine that the defendant was maintaining an active presence on Facebook — posting regular status updates to his profile.  The industrious legal counsel then asked the court for permission to serve the man via Facebook, which the court granted. 

Although this story is apparently the first of its kind, it certainly will not be the last.  Which leaves us to wonder: what's next? Service through Twitter? Maybe not… try "Tweetshrinking" your 30-page lawsuit into 140 characters. How about service while playing a multi-player game like "Call of Duty?" Imagine being in the middle of an epic firefight battle when you are accosted by a zombie Nazi with legal papers. Certainly, that would be a good way to ruin your game, not to mention your day.

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