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  • Dean Smith


INVESTIGATOR NOTE: ICU Investigations is dedicating this April issue of our newsletter to inform our clients about the importance of utilizing Internet Profile Reports as a staple in their investigative needs. The next three articles highlight three major case law summaries that have changed the way the judicial system views privacy on social media and the way we utilize social media in the investigative industry.


Plaintiff, Romano, claimed that permanent injuries sustained prevented her from enjoying life, resulting in confinement to her bed and home. Defendant, Steelcase Inc., wanted to use the plaintiff’s “private” posts on her social media sites as part of the case, claiming that her posts contradict the personal injury action and prove her ability to live a healthy lifestyle, such as a photo of Romano “smiling outside of her home.” If Romano was forced into the confines of her own home, why was she posting pictures outside, living a lifestyle she claimed was unattainable?

The Stored Communications Act prohibited the social media sites from releasing information posted by the plaintiff, but the defendant filed an order that allows access to the plaintiff’s social media accounts, current and historical pages, including any deleted pages and information.

The court reviewed instructive Canadian cases and the New York court ultimately approved right of entry into the plaintiff’s pages with the “reasonable likelihood that the private portions may contain evidence relevant to plaintiff’s claim about lifestyle loss, and preventing defendant from accessing her private postings would be in direct contravention to the liberal disclosure policy in New York State.” No social network platform can guarantee “complete privacy.”

The court concluded that when the plaintiff signed on to Facebook and MySpace originally, “she consented to the fact that her personal information would be shared with others, notwithstanding her privacy settings.” With the purpose of these sites being to share your information, it concludes that the reasonable expectation of privacy does not apply.

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