Monday, August 31, 2009

Can Social Networking Do You Harm?

In today's world, everyone talks about the benefit of social networking and blogging. However, few talk about its potential drawbacks. Some recent events illustrate how social networking can have adverse legal cosequences.

State and Federal tax collectors have been using social networking forums to assist in locating tax evaders and collecting back taxes from them. In one case, the California tax collectors were able to collect "four figure" taxes from a person after a discussion board posting showed the debtor had closed his business and "moved across the bay." The Minessota taxing authorities found a long sought tax delinquent when he announced on MySpace the name and location of his new employment. Searching for information on Google and social networking sites is supplemental to the traditional search methods, such as searching for bank accounts, employment records, real estate records, and motor vehicle records.

In December 2008, Master Harper of the ACT Supreme Court, Australia, authorized a plaintiff to "substitute serve" a default judgment on a hard-to-reach defendants via Facebook. The normal procedure is to serve default judgment on a defendant by personal service or by mail. Given the difficulty in locating the defendants, this Australian court ordered plaintiff to serve notice of entry of default judgment on defendants by transmitting computer messages to defendants' Facebook page.

Some information for this blog was gathered from articles on The Wall Street Journal, and The Sydney Morning Herald. For further information, run a search on Google.

Robin Mashal is a partner at the law firm of Hong & Mashal, LLP, and can be reached at (310) 286-2000. His practice focuses on business law, real estate law and civil litigation. Hong & Mashal LLP is a California business law firm.

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