Home » Uncategorized » Facebook “Friends”

Facebook “Friends”

The number of friends someone has on Facebook varies from person to person. As someone who rarely logs on to Facebook, I limit the number of friends I have to those I see myself interacting with closely on a daily basis. Others, however–including many people I know–have close to 1,000 friends on Facebook. But, what does that mean? Does that mean the 1,000 friends someone has befriended on Facebook are close friends or acquaintances? In some cases, people can accept a friend request from someone they have never met before, and may never interact act with in reality outside from the social networking site. This is the digital world we live in.

Having said that, the interplay between law and Facebook is an interesting one. Recently, judges’ use of Facebook to friend lawyers they may see in court has become a controversial topic. Just this week, an attorney asked the Florida Supreme Court to decide if judges are biased if their Facebook friends include lawyers who they will most likely see in court, keeping in mind that judges have to follow a standard that litigants have state and federal due process rights to a fair and impartial trial (Daily Business Review). Knowing that a Facebook friend may not signify a close relationship, in many cases, a judge adding an attorney who may appear in front of the judge in court does not seem problematic. The article published in the Daily Business Review further noted the significance of small communities and Facebook friendships: ” if a judge’s acquaintanceship with an attorney always led to recusal, judges in rural areas could never hear any cases”. The court opinion in the Florida case did note, however, that  if the judge’s friendship with an attorney is open to the public, suggesting a close relationship, then that may affect an impartial court proceeding, and the judge may need to recuse him or herself from the case.

What does this say about the technological world we live in? A Facebook friend is not necessarily a close friend? I use Facebook to stay in touch with people I have met in person but who live far away from me. However, some people use Facebook as a way to meet people without having met them in person. And others use Facebook personally and professionally. If some use Facebook professionally (like a Linkedin profile), then those people may not have met the person friended outside of the social networking site. For a judge and a potential lawyer the judge may see in court, the two parties have to pay particular attention as to what is being posted on Facebook if they do become friends.

A technological friendship entails being more careful and considerate of others who may see the relationship, because this relationship is out there for the rest of the world to see. Some people read too much into a Facebook friendship, while others may look at a Facebook friendship as nothing more than an impersonal connection.

-Ronique Padda