Internet Service Provided: The Movement Towards Service of Process Via Social Media
Christopher M. Finke*
It is classic film fodder to show a well-dressed man approaching a main character of the movie, handing that character some papers, and stating, “you’ve been served.” It is even within the realm of the imagination that a person may open his mailbox to find a letter from a fancy law firm that puts him on notice that he is being sued. What if, however, a person is scrolling through his Facebook feed when a message from his wife appears, serving him with divorce papers? An average person might immediately ask “is that even legal?” The bench, bar, and academia have been struggling to answer that question for the last decade. See, e.g., WhosHere, Inc. v. Orun, No. 1:13-cv-00526-AJT-TRJ, 2014 WL 670817 (E.D. Va. Feb. 20, 2014); Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Carrette, No. 4:12cv1728 SNLJ, 2013 WL 4058745 (D. Kan. July 9, 2013); Federal Trade Comm’n v. PCCare247 Inc., 12 Civ. 7189 (PAE), 2013 WL 841037 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 7, 2013); Fortunato v. Chase Bank USA, N.A., No. 11 Civ. 6608 (JFK), 2012 WL 2086950 (S.D.N.Y. June 7, 2012); Baidoo v. Blood-Dzarku, 5 N.Y.S.3d 709 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2015); In re Adoption of K.P.M.A., 341 P.3d 38 (Okla. 2014).
The exponential increase in the use and influence of social media, Facebook in particular, has been the subject of litigation. See Claire M. Specht, Note, No LOL Matter: Does Text Message Service Of Process Comport With Due Process?, 53 B.C. L. Rev. 1929, 1951–52 (2012). Notwithstanding the problem of authentication, can a lawyer use social media postings from accounts purportedly belonging to a party? Can social media postings be used to impeach the testimony of a witness? Can service of process be satisfied through social media? (more…)