Discovery of Social Networking Content

Social media has become an increasingly important source of information from the inception of litigation through trial. Despite the wide spread use of social networking sites by individuals and corporations alike, reported opinions addressing the discovery of information maintained on social networking sites is scarce.

Recently, a Pennsylvania state trial court issued an opinion granting defendant’s motion to compel the discovery of information maintained on Facebook by personal injury plaintiffs. Largent v. Reed  is the third decision by the Pennsylvania trial courts granting discovery of social media information. The court in Largent determined that social network information was relevant for purposes of discovery. Importantly, the court in Largent found,

“There is no confidential social networking privilege under existing Pennsylvania law.”

The court determined that social network communications are not protected by the federal Stored Communications Act. While Facebook information is now considered fair game for discovery in other jurisdictions, no opinions have been published by the New Jersey trial courts addressing this rapidly developing issue. It will be necessary to keep a close eye on the development of New Jersey’s jurisprudence on this subject as counsel become savvy about the use of social networking content as a valuable source of evidence.

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