You've Been Served… Via Facebook

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Social media isn't only invading the operating room this week; it is also hitting the courts.

UK High Court judge Nigel Teare approved the use of Facebook to serve legal documents in a British case regarding an alleged business scam.

According to the Associated Press, the case centers on two investment managers who have accused a brokerage firm of overcharging them.  Former broker Fabio De Biase is accused of participating in the uncouth business practices, but lawyers on the case had a difficult time tracking him down to serve him with legal documents.

And that's where the Facebook comes in.

After being unable to reach him at De Biase physical address or on e-mail, the lawyers noticed that De Biase had recently accepted two friend requests on Facebook.

They applied for permission to serve him through the popular social network, and Judge Teare approved.

This isn't the first time legal documents have been served through social media networks.  While most claims are served in hard copy and in some cases via email, a UK court served documents via Twitter in 2009 and there have been other instances of using Facebook in Australia and Canada.

There have been no reports of this happening in the United States yet, and that's largely due to concerns over false identities and fake accounts on social media services.

Bradley Shear, a social media lawyer and expert in the field, believes this sort of practice will become more and more common, but is highly concerned with with authentication.

"Authentication is a major issue since you must be sure that the person with whom you are trying to serve online is the same person offline. You don't want to have someone's due process rights infringed upon due to not being properly notified."