I’ll bet that most plaintiffs’ Facebook accounts contain run-of-the-mill, explainable and oh-so-boring posts. Yet, plaintiffs fight tooth and nail to stop defendants from gaining access to those accounts during litigation.
For one case that did not turn out well for the plaintiff who sought to defend the sanctity of his Facebook account, check out Gatto v. United Air Lines Inc., et al. that came out of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey this year. The magistrate judge’s opinion sets it out: Airline worker Frank Gatto claimed he was severely injured when another airline’s equipment crashed into him. The defendants asked for his Facebook account information. Later, Gatto deactivated his account because he had been "hacked into" on numerous occasions. By not re-activating his account within 14 days, the contents disappeared forever.
Result: The magistrate judge granted the defendants' motion, ordering an adverse inference instruction for the jury against the plaintiff regarding the deletion of the Facebook page. Note: The magistrate judge held that, in making this kind of decision, it’s generally irrelevant whether a party was culpable.
The worst seldom comes to pass. We make thing worse by thinking it is so. Sometimes it is just easier to comply than fight or, in this case, destroy.