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Florida Court Rules Plaintiffs have No Expectation of Privacy in Facebook Pictures

social mediaWith the rise of social media, questions of whether information from social media accounts is permitted in litigation have been a recurring question in a variety of contexts. Defendants often seek discovery of a plaintiff’s social media content, including posts, pictures, comments, and other things, hoping to disprove liability or at least decrease damages. This issue was recently dealt with by a Florida court when a woman sued Target after allegedly falling at the store and sustaining injuries.

In Nucci v. Target Corp., a Target customer claimed she slipped and fell while at the store and sustained physical injuries. She filed a lawsuit against Target to seek compensation for her injuries. During a deposition, Target asked for access to the plaintiff’s Facebook page for the reason of obtaining photographs. The corporation believed that the pictures were relevant to the lawsuit because they demonstrated the plaintiff’s physical and mental condition at the time.

Shortly after the plaintiff’s objection to releasing the pictures from her Facebook page, approximately 36 photographs disappeared from the profile page. The court subsequently granted Target’s motion to compel and ordered the plaintiff to produce the photographs she had posted and shared since the slip and fall, as well as photographs posted during the two years preceding the incident in question.

Both at trial and on appeal, the plaintiff argued that, since her Facebook privacy settings prevented the general public from accessing her photographs, she had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in that content, and thus Target’s request for those photographs was inappropriate.

The Fourth District Court of Appeals disagreed with the plaintiff and ordered her to produce photographs from her personal Facebook page. The court reasoned that pictures posted on Facebook are “unlike medical records or communications with one’s attorney, where disclosure is confined to narrow, confidential relationships,” and the “photographs sought were reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence and Nucci’s privacy interest in them was minimal.” The Judges further explained that social networking sites like Facebook do not guarantee privacy, and users have to acknowledge that their personal information may be shared with others.

The Nucci decision is important because it shows that content on social networking sites may be accessible to the defense in certain situations. It is important to remember, however, that this decision does not give a party unfettered access to a litigant’s Facebook page. Instead, the party seeking the content must demonstrate why it is relevant.

Premises liability law is a complex area of law, which is why it important to consult a qualified Miami injury attorney. Robert Dixon has helped countless South Florida clients resolve their premises liability claims. We understand what kind of social media material may be accessible to defendants, and that it is important for injured individuals to be cautious when posting to their social media accounts. We can help advise you of your next steps. To learn all your legal options, do not hesitate to reach out to us. You can contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) for a free, confidential consultation.

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