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June 29, 2011

Judges Turn to Facebook

Last week, we commented on the importance of managing your privacy settings on Social Media sites like Facebook.

This week, I want to highlight the increasing role that Facebook is playing in Canadian courts.

To get a better sense of the overall trend, consider the following statistics: in 2010, Facebook is referenced 25 times in BC Court cases – a 357% increase since 2008. The trend is even more compelling nationwide, with Facebook referenced 171 times in Canadian court cases in 2010 – a 590% increase in the same 3 year period.

Below are some Canadian court cases that refer to Facebook:

  • In Mayenburg v. Lu, the defence lawyer tries to refer to 273 photos obtained from the Facebook “walls” of the plaintiff’s friends. The Judge admits only the photos showing the plaintiff performing an activity that she said she had difficulty doing after the accident.
  • In Bagasbas v. Atwal, the plaintiff says she can no longer kayak, hike or bicycle after her accident. But the defence lawyer shows the Judge photos of the plaintiff doing these activities.
  • In Leduc v. Roman, an Ontario Judge disregards the plaintiff’s Facebook privacy settings and finds all relevant information in the Facebook profile admissible in court.

The police are also turning to Facebook. Consider the role Facebook is playing after June’s Stanley Cup Playoff final. The Facebook page, Vancouver Riot Pics, now has over 100,000 followers and is helping local police identify rioters and looters.

Author - Michael Slater, QC

Michael Slater QC is the founding partner of Slater Vecchio. The majority of his practice is confined to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury cases.