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Do Facebook Settings Complicate Plaintiff eDiscovery?

Posted on June 9th, 2014

Social media is often requested by defendants as part of plaintiff ESI. However, do plaintiffs have to produce every detail contained within a Facebook profile? What if Facebook only allows the entire account to be downloaded without allowing for date restrictions, even if the entire account was not ordered produced? These are discovery issues that the court considered in Jayne Stallings v. City of Johnston City, et al., No. 13-cv-422-DRH-SCW (S.D.Ill. May 19, 2014).

In the case at hand, defense counsel noted that they received 466 pages from Stallings’ Facebook account, but that the names in the documents were redacted. In an earlier ruling, the court had required plaintiff’s counsel to provide defense counsel with a copy of the unredacted pages from 2011 forward, which could be in either electronic or hardcopy formats. Plaintiff’s counsel claimed the only way it could produce the account was to download the entire unredacted file from 2007 to the present. However, the pertinent issues of the case only took place from 2011 onward.

The issue at hand was the fact that Facebook only allowed for the download of an individual’s Facebook data in its entirety and could not download only posts from 2011 onward. Defense counsel wanted to be assured that no relevant names or data were being redacted, while plaintiff’s counsel noted that:

  1. It took an attorney and paralegal seven days to print, redact, and compile only 500 pages of Facebook activity.
  2. By providing the Facebook profile data in its entirety, minors and privileged information might be implicated.
  3. Producing all of the Facebook data would be unduly burdensome.

The Court, attempting to balance interests and the issue that Facebook only allowed for the download of the entire profile, ruled that:

  1. Plaintiff’s counsel would be required to provide defense counsel with a redacted hard copy of all relevant Facebook pages from only 2011 to the present.
  2. It was proper for defense counsel to have the opportunity to review the files in their entirety at plaintiff’s counsel’s office, if they felt that they had not been provided the entirety of relevant redacted files.

ILS – Plaintiff eDiscovery Experts

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