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Copyright (c) 2010 Southwestern Law School
Southwestern Law Review

ARTICLE: CIVIL DISCOVERY OF SOCIAL NETWORKING INFORMATION

2010

Southwestern Law Review

39 Sw. L. Rev. 413

Author

By Steven C. Bennett*

Excerpt



Social networking via the Internet (sometimes called "Web 2.0") 1 has become, almost overnight, a major social, technological, and business phenomenon, in the United States and elsewhere. 2 Use of new low-cost means to connect with friends, family and old acquaintances, to form new relationships, and to broadcast personal, social, financial, academic, and other information has come to rival even the massive cultural shift involved in widespread adoption of e-mail over the past twenty years. 3 Continued development and expansion of social networking services and uses seem inevitable.

For lawyers, the social networking phenomenon presents a new set of challenges. Social networking information can provide vital evidence in connection with disputes and regulatory proceedings. 4 Indeed, such evidence may be the new "smoking gun" in many cases. 5 This Article briefly addresses issues surrounding the discovery of such information, and suggests some "best practices" to deal with this new form of evidence.

I. What Is Social Networking?
 
Social networking websites allow registered users to upload profiles, post comments, join "networks," and add "friends." 6 They give registered users the opportunity to form "links" between each other, based on friendships, hobbies, personal interests, and business sector or academic affiliations. 7 Social networking sites can be used both personally, to contact friends and find old classmates, and professionally, to look for employment or find someone with whom to collaborate. 8 Most social networking systems are available to all users. Some are available by invitation (or special qualification) only. ...
 
 
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