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Are Facebook friends legally your friends? Here’s what a Florida judge had to say

Are Facebook friends legally your friends? Here’s what a Florida judge had to say

As the volumes of social media-related court opinions keep piling up, a Florida appeals court yesterday decided something most of us already know: Facebook friends are not necessarily actual friends. In a 10-page opinion, Judge Thomas Logue, of Florida’s third district court of appeals, said a Miami judge didn’t need to recuse herself from a case just because one of the attorneys is her Facebook “friend.” Apparently, a law firm petitioned the court to have the judge disqualified on that basis, but Logue noted that social networks have evolved far beyond the point where we only use them to maintain connections with close friends. In other words, all those Facebook “friends” aren’t necessarily your friends in the legal sense:

“Acceptance as a Facebook ‘friend’ may well once have given the impression of close friendship and affiliation. Currently, however, the degree of intimacy among Facebook ‘friends’ varies greatly. The designation of a person as a ‘friend’ on Facebook does not differentiate between a close friend and a distant acquaintance. Because a ‘friend’ on a social networking website is not necessarily a friend in the traditional sense of the word, we hold that the mere fact that a judge is a Facebook ‘friend’ with a lawyer for a potential party or witness, without more, does not provide a basis for a well-grounded fear that the judge cannot be impartial or that the judge is under the influence of the Facebook ‘friend.'”

The Miami Herald has more analysis on the ruling here. Check out the full court opinion here.CZ