Over the past couple of years, there has been discussion regarding serving process via Facebook. Some international courts have given the okay for service of process via social network sites as a legal form of delivery. The U.S. has been slow to make similar changes to due process law. However, some jurisdictions in the U.S. have allowed service of process via email and social networking sites in unique circumstances. Regardless, the purpose of service remains the same as do some of the basic requirements--it still is the notification of a lawsuit or legal action that must be delivered by a disinterested third party such as a process server with some kind of confirmation of the delivery.
Simply, there are pros and cons of effectuating service via Facebook. We have created a list of such advantages and disadvantages and you can click to the right to see to see either the Pros or Cons.
There are a couple of reasons that make service via Facebook seem like a good solution to some problems in the process serving industry. Service of process can be a dangerous occupation. Individuals could be served their papers digitally, keeping process servers safe from harm. Additionally, there will always be people who dodge service. Some individuals are only able to be contacted online. When the only way to contact a person is digitally, service via Facebook could be a good solution. Since messages, emails, and documents are received instantly, rush service would most likely be easier and more cost-effective through Facebook.
While there are advantages, service via Facebook also presents its own problems that may prevent widespread approval in the United States. The biggest issue is that the court can never be 100% sure that the account being served belongs to the individual that needs to be served. There are countless fake accounts on Facebook and other social media sites like Twitter that use real names and photos of individuals but are not operated by them. This creates a huge problems and defeats the whole purpose of due process. Additionally, if the account is owned by the correct person to be served but they don’t actively use the account then service via Facebook is pointless.
The number of social media profiles is increasing and so is the use of social networks but there are still a lot of people who do not have access to the internet. Service of process via newspaper is allowed because even though not everyone reads it, it is easily accessible to most of the population. There are many people who can’t afford to purchase a computer or get to a place with access to the internet. Some people have no knowledge of how to use social media or they don’t want to use social media at all. Recent research says that about 20% of households in the United States don’t have access to the internet. With so many people not having the internet, service of process via Facebook may not be a good method.
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