Are private Facebook photos now fair game under Florida law?
Last week a Florida state appellate court ruled that a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit was required to produce photos that she had previously deleted from her Facebook account finding that users of social media sites, like Facebook, should not expect photographs and other information on those sites to remain private. The plaintiff sued Target Corporation for alleged injuries sustained in a slip-and-fall.
The ruling is significant because it reasoned that the pictures posted (and then deleted) by the plaintiff were neither privileged nor protected by the plaintiff’s privacy rights – even when the plaintiff had utilized Facebook’s privacy settings which limited the universe of who could see the plaintiff’s photographs and other content. Therefore, while the plaintiff believed that the privacy settings gave her a reasonable expectation of privacy, the Court disagreed.
This decision could have a lasting impact on litigation in the state of Florida as it will undoubtedly be cited in numerous motions to compel photographs and other potentially relevant content from non-public Facebook profiles. Litigants and potential litigants should be mindful about what they are posting to social media and can no longer expect that their privacy settings give them privacy rights.