Facebook: What is Private?

By: Jillian C. York on 16 March 2009

Users of Facebook beware: In a precedent-setting decision by a Toronto judge, a man injured in a car accident has been ordered to turn over information from his Facebook page which is off-limits to the public.

The lawyers of the lawsuit's defendant, Janice Roman, believe information posted on John Leduc's private Facebook page may be relevant to a claim he made that an accident in 2004 interfered with his quality of life. Leduc is now required to submit to cross-examination regarding the content of his Facebook page.

The February 20 ruling also makes clear that lawyers are now required to explain to clients in relevant cases that social networking postings may become relevant to legal allegations, a situation which could easily occur when a litigant claims that his or her quality of life has been affected.

Although bloggers and others who make information public should be aware that information they post could be used against them, this case sets a precedent for the release of private information in a court case.