Brannon Crowe sued his employer because he claimed that he injured his knee at the workplace. However, according to a Facebook message that Crowe allegedly sent one of his friends, he injured his knee on a fishing trip. Though it’s unclear how Crowe’s employer found out about the alleged message, they asked him to produce an entire digital copy of his Facebook page from the time he started working for them until the present. Crowe declined, and told them that he “does not presently have a Facebook account.”
However, it was discovered that Crowe deactivated his Facebook account four days after his employer requested his information. His case, though likely to result in a loss for him, underlines the important differences between deleting and deactivating a Facebook account.
‘The Court is troubled by Crowe’s refusal to produce any responsive documents on the basis of the statement that he did not ‘presently have a Facebook account,’’ the judge in the case said. “The records indicate that Crowe did not delete his account but deactivated it. It is readily apparent to any user who navigates to the page instructing how to deactivate an account that the two actions are different.”
Crowe’s case also raises important questions about how far individuals involved in legal proceedings can and should go to protect their information. If they deactivate accounts, a judge can simply order them to be reactivated. But if they delete their accounts completely, it could be construed as willfully destroying evidence. The relationship between Facebook and the law is still in its early stages, and it’ll be interesting to see how it becomes further integrated with court proceedings in the future.