Can you be served with a lawsuit on Facebook?
Written by Greg on May 2, 2013
If you live in Texas, the answer is we will wait and see. Recently, a bill was presented to the Texas legislature under H. B. 1989 that would permit substituted service of citation through a social media website.
The bill is very concise and provides that a court may permit as a method of service “an electronic communications sent to the defendant through a social media website” provided, the court finds that:
1. The defendant maintains a social media page on the website
2. The profile on the social media page is the profile of the defendant
3. The defendant regularly accesses the social media page account
4. The defendant could reasonably be expected to receive actual notice if the electronic communication were sent to the defendant’s account.
Courts in other countries have permitted social media service of process and the practice is expected to be embraced sooner or later. Whether that occurs in Texas courts in the near future remains to be seen.
There are many reasons why service by social media may make sense and also several areas of concern. The most important concern on service of process is that the defendant is calculated to actually received notice and the significance of that notice when served with process.
Another area of concern, is the privacy aspect of service of process to a defendant. Is that something that courts want the world to know about on a social media account? Finally, the fact that someone is very active on something like Facebook may also indicate that they are not likely to actually understand they have been served with process. With so much spam out there and many social media users with thousands of “friends”, the potential for obtaining service yet not having the “served” understand it is not a joke or actually even read it is a real one.
Finally, anything that can reduce the cost of litigation to Texas families and consumers should receive serious consideration and balanced against privacy rights and ensuring actual notice in the service of process.