Texas state representative is proposing a new bill that would allow a person to be served through Facebook. The bill was created to help integrate today’s technology to solve the problem of finding a physical address for people who may not want to be found or who may be resistant to being served with divorce papers or with papers regarding an upcoming lawsuit.
If the bill passes, Texas will be the first state to allow people to serve others through social media. A New York federal judge ruled recently that the Federal Trade Commission could use Facebook to serve legal documents to a defendant. However, in that case, the judge ruled that this method could only be used as a secondary form of service to more traditional methods. The Texas bill could operate in a similar manner and would only be permitted if a judge deems it appropriate because a defendant could not be found using other forms of service. Additionally, social media service would only be legally permissible if the defendant has and checks a social media account on a regular basis and if the profile belongs to the defendant.
However, some potential problems may arise because of social media service. Messages are not always visible to the recipient if the person sending the message is not a “friend” or “follower.” Additionally, other people may be able to see the notice, making this private form of communication very public.
Individuals who receive divorce papers through social media may have questions regarding the legal validity of this process. A Houston family law attorney may be able to provide guidance regarding this issue.
Source: Dallas Observer, “Texas Lawyers May Soon Be Able to Serve Defendent Via Facebook,” Eric Nicholson, March 15, 2013
Source: Daily Dot, “Texas law would allow legal documents to be served on Facebook,” Jennifer Abel, March 11, 2013