UPDATE: See the recent discussion of the new Texas proposal here and join in the discussion over this idea: Texas Bill Proposes Allowing Substituted Service via Social Media – What Do You Think?
In a recent opinion a United States District Court in New York refused to allow the defendant to be served via Facebook, instead reasoning that the local papers were the most likely means of apprising the defendant of the lawsuit. The legal standard is that the method of service must be reasonably calculated to apprise the defendant of the pending lawsuit. The defendant is a transient young woman who was being sued for fraudulently running up credit card charges on her mother’s accounts, she had no regular place of residence but did have a Facebook profile with her picture on it. Do you believe she would be more likely to learn about this lawsuit through the local news papers or Facebook? What if it were you?
The Court gave further explanation of its reasoning and distinguished cases of email service as follows:
Service by Facebook is unorthodox to say the least, and this Court is unaware of any other court that has authorized such service. Furthermore, in those cases where service by email has been judicially approved, the movant supplied the Court with some facts indicating that the person to be served would be likely to receive the summons and complaintat the given email address. Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Veles Ltd., No. 06 Civ.2988, 2007 WL 725412, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 12, 2007) (denying motion to dismiss for improper service where the court authorized service by email and fax because “Plaintiff showed that defendants conduct business extensively, if not exclusively, through their Internet websites and correspond regularly with customers via email. Furthermore, defendants do not disclose their physical addresses or location of incorporation. Through its investigation, plaintiff has shown that email and fax correspondence are likely to reach defendants”).
You can read more about this in the actual opinion and in the following story: Judge says bank can’t use Facebook to reach defendant — try local paper instead