Investigating Facebook: The Ethics of Using Social Networking Websites in Legal Investigations

The Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal, Forthcoming

50 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2011 Last revised: 3 Jan 2013

See all articles by Shane Witnov

Shane Witnov

Practicing attorney in California; University of California, Berkeley - School of Law; Practicing attorney in California

Date Written: November 15, 2011

Abstract

Social networking websites contain a wealth of data that is useful in a variety of situations, including legal disputes. Some information on social networks is publicly available, but most of it is restricted. This article examines when and how lawyers are ethically and legally permitted to collect information from social networking websites, and in particular when undercover data collection is, if ever, appropriate. It considers how the Model Rules of Professional Conduct regulate the use of deception to obtain information restricted to selected friends on social-networking websites. The case law and the rules are unclear in this area suggesting a number of ways in which the rules could be improved for greater equity between parties and clarity so lawyers know what is appropriate.

Keywords: social network, social networks, ethics, legal ethics

Suggested Citation

Witnov, Shane, Investigating Facebook: The Ethics of Using Social Networking Websites in Legal Investigations (November 15, 2011). The Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1852649

Shane Witnov (Contact Author)

Practicing attorney in California ( email )

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Practicing attorney in California

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