Digging for Social Media for Litigation

You are a lawyer and you have a new case where there may be some online evidence.  Where do you start?  What social media sites – like Facebook, Twitter, etc. – do you focus on?  The presentation I gave the Manitoba Bar Association‘s Legal Research section looked at how to unearth information related to employment law cases.  Most of this information works in other practice areas, particularly for personal injury cases.

Here’s the powerpoint deck I used.

My first scan was to look at Canadian case law relating to social media, anything from blogs to Twitter to Facebook.  There wasn’t a lot, although you can start with Leduc v. Roman 2009 CanLII 6838 as one of the leading cases dealing with Facebook, privacy, and social media.  Another interesting case is Wice v. Dominion of Canada General Insurance 2009 CanLII 36310, which focuses on relevancy of private profile information.  There are some particularly interesting developments based on Leduc, like the Lougheed Imports case out of British Columbia.  It balances the employee’s privacy interest in an online social account while determing what is private and what isn’t.  Sparks v Dubé 2011 NBQB 40 looked at the difference between private and public profile information, preservation, and relevancy.  While a number of cases mention Facebook, no other single site is mentioned as often in Canadian judicial opinions.  A handful refer to blogs or occasionally Twitter.

I’ll be writing something more detailed on this in the next month or so.

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David Whelan
I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.