Court Approves Serving Lawsuit Via Facebook

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Better take a close look at all those “friend” requests you’ve been getting.  One of them might be a process server.

This week, an Australian court approved a lawyer’s request to serve two defendants with a lawsuit by sending them a message through Facebook.  Mark McCormack said he had been trying for weeks to serve Gordon Poyser and Carmel Corbo with a foreclosure notice after they defaulted on a home loan.  Courts have previously approved service by email and even text messages, if a plaintiff can show that regular measures have not succeeded.  Having noticed that defendants had Facebook profiles, McCormack persuaded the court to authorize service that way.

The order attracted publicity right away, however, and by the time McCormack’s documents were ready to go, the Facebook profiles were no longer public.

An Associated Press reporter was able to find Poyser at home (and somehow get him to answer the door).  He declined to comment, except to say that the couple was despondent about possibly losing their home, and to insist that he had restricted the Facebook pages only because he knew media attention was likely.  Otherwise, he said, “I’d get every man and his dog having a look.”

Facebook itself was quite pleased with the ruling.  “We’re pleased to see the Australian court validate Facebook as a reliable, secure and private medium for communication,” the company said, obviously through a trained spokesbot.  “The ruling is also an interesting indication of the increasing role that Facebook is playing in people’s lives.”  Yes indeed—once Facebook was just helping people stay in touch with friends, but now it’s helping evict people from their homes during the Christmas season.

Happy Holidays, from Facebook!