International courts increasingly willing to accept service
through Facebook when other methods fail.
Judge entered an order for "substitutional service," ruling
that the plaintiff could serve one defendant by publication by forwarding a
copy of the statement of claim to the HR department where the defendant had
formerly worked and by sending notice to the defendant's Facebook page. Knott v. Sutherland (Feb. 5, 2009)
Edmonton 0803 002267 (Alta.Q.B.M.)
High Court allowed an individual to be served with process
via Facebook in commercial litigation over failed business transactions. Based
on the failure of conventional efforts at service because the defendant's
whereabouts were unknown, the court consented to service through Facebook. Axe
Market Gardens v Craig Axe CIV: 2008-485-2676.
In September 2009, the High Court allowed an injunction
against an anonymous blogger to be served via Twitter. British lawyer and
conservative blogger Donal Blaney obtained the injunction after an unknown
blogger began impersonating him on the Internet.
No reported decision has been found from a court in the
United States allowing service by Facebook or Twitter. Concerns are as follows:
On the other hand, neither notice by publication nor public
posting provide actual notice to defendants, although those methods of service
are commonly accepted alternative methods of service. Service by email has also
been recognized in New York, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
John G. Browning, Served Without Ever Leaving the Computer,
Service of Process Via Social Media, Tex. Bar J. (March 2010) (available at
This article is an excerpt of the written
materials from Using Facebook and Other
Social Networking Sites as Informal Discovery, a continuing legal education
course presented by the ABA Young Lawyers Division at the 2011 ABA MidYear
Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. This portion of the course was presented by Lisa
McManus, Web 2.0 Legal Communities Manager at LexisNexis. Other panelists
included Min Cho, an associate with Holland & Knight LLP in Orlando,
Florida, and Stacie S. Winkler, an associate with Baker, Donelson, Bearman,
Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC in Memphis, Tennessee.