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Courts are increasingly willing to accept service through Facebook and other social media platforms when other methods fail.
Mpafe v. Mpafe, Hennepin County, MN No. 27-FA-11-3453: Authorized service of divorce proceedings on defendant, who was believed to have left the country, by email, "Facebook, Myspace or any other social networking site." The order stated that while the court allowed service by publication in a legal newspaper, it was unlikely the respondent would see it. "The traditional way to get service by publication is antiquated and is prohibitively expensive," Judge Kevin Burke wrote. "Service is critical, and technology provides a cheaper and hopefully more effective way of finding respondent."
Rio Props. v. Rio Int'l Interlink, 284 F.3d 1007 (9th Cir. 2002): Email service upon foreign Internet gambling business was appropriate alternative service.
Concerns are as follows:
On the other hand, neither notice by publication nor public posting provide actual notice to defendants, although those methods of service are commonly accepted alternative methods of service. Service by email has also been recognized in New York, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
Judge entered an order for "substitutional service," ruling that the plaintiff could serve one defendant by publication by forwarding a copy of the statement of claim to the HR department where the defendant had formerly worked and by sending notice to the defendant's Facebook page. Knott v. Sutherland (Feb. 5, 2009) Edmonton 0803 002267 (Alta.Q.B.M.)
High Court allowed an individual to be served with process via Facebook in commercial litigation over failed business transactions. Based on the failure of conventional efforts at service because the defendant's whereabouts were unknown, the court consented to service through Facebook. Axe Market Gardens v Craig Axe CIV: 2008-485-2676.
In September 2009, the High Court allowed an injunction against an anonymous blogger to be served via Twitter. British lawyer and conservative blogger Donal Blaney obtained the injunction after an unknown blogger began impersonating him on the Internet. Blaney v Persons Unknown (October 2009).
John G. Browning, Served Without Ever Leaving the Computer, Service of Process Via Social Media, Tex. Bar J. (March 2010) (available at http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.barjournals/texbarj0073&id=1&size=2&collection=texbarj&index=texbarj)
Our Pleasure to Serve You-More Lawyers Look to Social Networking Sites to Notify Defendants - ABA Journal, http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/our_pleasure_to_serve_lawyers_social_networking_sites_notify_defendants/