A Federal Magistrate Judge in San Francisco, Laurel Beeler has approved the use of Twitter for service of process. The case involves an international citizen of Kuwait who is an active user of the social media platform. According to the case, the alleged defendant is engaged in the financing of terrorist activities and used Twitter to actively raise funds and promote activities. He also has a huge Twitter following according to the record and the parties attempting to serve the Defendant has had difficulties effectuating personal service. Please find the Order here.
According to 4(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure:
Rule 4 – Summons
(f) Service Upon Individuals in a Foreign Country. Unless otherwise provided by federal law, service upon an individual from whom a waiver has not been obtained and filed, other than an infant or an incompetent person, may be effected in a place not within any judicial district of the United States:
(1) by any internationally agreed means reasonably calculated to give notice, such as those means authorized by the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents; or
(2) if there is no internationally agreed means of service or the applicable international agreement allows other means of service, provided that service is reasonably calculated to give notice:
(A) in the manner prescribed by the law of the foreign country for service in that country in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction; or
(B) as directed by the foreign authority in response to a letter rogatory or letter of request; or
(C) unless prohibited by the law of the foreign country, by
(i) delivery to the individual personally of a copy of the summons and the complaint; or
(ii) any form of mail requiring a signed receipt, to be addressed and dispatched by the clerk of the court to the party to be served; or
(3) by other means not prohibited by international agreement as may be directed by the court.”
Judge Beeler concluded that Rule 4(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits use of service through Twitter.
This case is another example of the Courts extending their reach using social media. A previous case has allowed service via Facebook after the initiating party had exhausted all his remedies and there was a pattern of the defendant using the social media platform to communicate in the past. It is another example of the Courts accepting that social media is a reliable method of communication however there have been plenty of concerns of the over-use of this method of service. All prior cases have shown that the serving party would have to attempt several methods before service by social media is even considered.
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