Saturday, May 29, 2010

Chat on Facebook shows up in court

"When Disa Powell's husband and brother were badly burned in an electrical explosion while conducting maintenance at a Walmart store and the family sued, the defense went after something she never expected: her online life.

Through a subpoena seeking information about the injuries, Wal-Mart gained full access to her Facebook and MySpace social-networking accounts -- every public and private message, contact and photo for the previous two and a half years.

There were the pictures of Powell's newborn baby lying in a hospital bed after heart surgery (Label: "The hardest day of Mommy and Daddy's life.") The messages detailing problems with her pregnancy ("I got a bladder infection, which has moved to my kidneys.") And the messages dissing on friends ("Brad is a big fat BABY, and can't do anything by himself. The whole issue is that he's lazy.")

"I was livid," said Powell, 35. "I felt like I had been seriously violated." The case, settled out of court in January, offers a window into an issue that has riled members of Congress, consumer advocates and account holders: what your social-networking sites know about you and whom they share it with."
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