SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT IS DISCOVERABLE
Generally, there is no privacy protections carved out in California for social media posts. A party may “obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense—including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things.” Social media posts by a party are discoverable in California as long as the discovery request meets the relevancy standard and is narrowly tailored to the issues in the case.
In Mailhoit v. Home Depot U.S.A. Inc., (2012) 285 F.R.D. 566 (C.D. CA), a plaintiff employee brought a employment discrimination case against her former employer claiming mental and emotional distress. The Defendant employer sent document requests seeking (1) “profiles, postings or messages (including status updates, wall comments, causes joined, groups joined, activity streams, blog entries)” from any social networking site from October 2005 through the present ” that reveal, refer, or relate to any emotion, feeling, or mental state of Plaintiff” (2) “third-party communications to Plaintiff that place her own communications in context” (3) “any pictures of Plaintiff taken during the relevant time period and posted on Plaintiff’s profile or tagged or otherwise linked to her profile,” and (4) social networking communications referring to plaintiff’s employment with Defendant or the subject lawsuit. Plaintiff refused to produce documents in response to the requests and Defendant employer brought a Motion to Compel. The Court denied Defendant’s Motion to Compel as to the first three requests finding the requests to be not reasonably particularized and/or overbroad. However, the Court granted Defendant employer’s Motion to Compel as to the fourth request finding it to be reasonably particularized and reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
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Ieenor Lin is a Partner in our San Jose office and practices in civil litigation, employment law and insurance defense.
Legal Disclaimer: This article is designed for general information only. The information presented should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.