Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how popular Facebook is. And chances are, you probably use it. It’s a great way to keep in touch with new friends and reconnect with old ones, join groups, learn about events, and serve people with court room documents. No, that last phrase wasn’t a joke. In fact this Tuesday, a court in Australia approved the use of Facebook to notify a couple that they lost their home after defaulting on a loan.
Australian courts have given permission in the past for people to be served through e-mail and text messages when it was not possible to serve them in person. But this week, the Australian Supreme Court ruled that Facebook is a satisfactory way of serving legal documents to defendants who cannot be found.
The judge ordered that the defendants in the case could be validly served by the plaintiff sending a message to the Facebook pages of both defendants informing them of the terms of the judgment. The documents must be attached to a private e-mail that could not be seen by others visiting the pages.That’s an inbox message for all us Facebook users.
McCormack, a lawyer for the lender the couple borrowed from, explained that after failing to reach the couple through all traditional methods of contact, he and a colleague found the woman’s Facebook page using personal information that she had given the lender including her birth date and e-mail address. Her partner was listed on her page as a friend. Before Tuesday, their profiles were public and open to strangers, but by the time the court approved the use of Facebook, the couple’s profiles had disappeared from public view. Guess Facebook really does do a good job with privacy settings, huh? Nonetheless, the case is set to be settled by the end of the week.
A few takeaways from this to share. First, Facebook has clearly left the sole box of social networking site and entered the realm of worldwide, accepted communication vehicle. The marketing world jumped on the bandwagon a long time ago, but with the legal world taking note, it seems as if Facebook has received a whole new level of legitimacy. Second, through vehicles like Facebook, the world has become teeny tiny, and with just the click of the mouse almost anyone can found. And finally, people use methods that they know and are comfortable with, and now Facebook has become a communication method as comfortable as picking up the phone. In fact, according to McCormack, “It’s one of those occasions where you feel most at home with what you know and I myself have a Facebook account.”
And it is this actuality that will inevitably force the wanted couple to face the Facebook music.