A New York judge has set quite the precedent, ordering a woman to turn over her Facebook login details so that her profile can be scoured for evidence in a custody case.
The New York Post says that 47-year-old Christina Antoine has until September 14th to turn over her Facebook credentials. Antoine is currently in a custody battle with her estranged husband, 54-year-old Anthony DiMartino.
DiMartino and his lawyers argue that he, not his wife, has been the one spending time with their 4-year-old son – and Facebook can prove it. Apparently, Antoine's Facebook page is filled with evidence that she's been traveling out of state while DiMartino has been raising the kid.
And judge Lawrence Ecker agrees that the Facebook evidence is material to the case.
“The court finds that the time spent by the parties with the child may be relevant and material to its ultimate determination of custody,” the judge wrote in a ruling.
Antoine is fighting the ruling, claiming her profile is private.
The interesting thing about this is that the judge isn't simply allowing evidence found on Antoine's public Facebook profile to be used in court – he's demanding access to all of her Facebook data.
In theory, the court will be able to scour all of her photos, check-ins, and other data – even that set to a more private sharing setting.
The Post says that this is a first-of-its-kind ruling, although social media data has been allowed in custody cases in Minnesota – in rare circumstances.
In general, people involved in court cases can see their private records – phone data, bank information, etc – unearthed. Of course, people routinely have their private belongings and property searched as well.
But in this case, Facebook is being treated like a digital locker. It appears some courts are catching up with the times.