On the heels of the Facebook IPO, there have been some pretty interesting articles on the role that Facebook is beginning to play in the legal world.
Last week the state of Maryland passed a law, broadly speaking, prohibiting employers from asking employees and potential employees for their social media log-in information. This is the first law of its kind but several other states have similar bills pending. Once the Governor has signed this law it will take effect October 1st.
In another case, 6 employees lost their job allegedly for “liking” their boss’ political opposition on Facebook. The judge in this case ruled that “liking” on Facebook is not protected under Freedom of Speech granted in the First Amendment. This case is sure to go appeal.
Indeed it is no surprise that Facebook has made its way into the laws and cases that govern America. What may be surprising, however, is the large volume of cases involving Facebook over such a short time period.
I used Fastcase’s Timeline feature to take a look at such cases mapped in 4-D over time. As you can see in the image below, cases including the search term Facebook only began in 2006 (the one in 2004 does not refer to the Facebook) and since then there have been almost 1000 more.
They most prominently begin with the cases made famous by the movie The Social Network involving Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg and the Winklevoss twins over the ConnectU site. The most recent part ( and coincidentally also in Massachusetts) of the Timeline shows a slip opinion that came out a few days ago and was reported in news stories about the role Facebook plays on jury selection.
It is hard to imagine that just 7 years ago litigation involving Facebook was practically non-existent and now it is becoming a part of daily legal vernacular. Who knows, the court of the future may be a simple poll of “Likes” on a Facebook page…