Legal Issues From Facebook and Related Social Media Technologies: Panel Discussion

From the Torys Speaker Series at the University of Ottawa Law and Technology:

Facing up to Facebook
A panel discussion on social media and social networking

Please join the Law & Technology group as Professors Jane Bailey, Jeremy de Beer, Michael Geist, Ian Kerr, and Valerie Steeves discuss legal issues arising from Facebook and related social media technologies.

Date: Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Time: 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Place: Fauteux Hall, room 351
Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Please RSVP to
Join the Facing up to Facebook event page.

Note about this event thanks to Mark Blevis.


  1. I don’t know if you can help i’m in ontario canada and i’m wondering if there is a way to get a record or manuscript of my own recent instant messages sent and received on facebook and if so do I need the consent of the other party involved in the I.M. conversation and if you cannot help me with this question do you know someone or somewhere I should contact to find this out thankyou for your time reading this I hope for a response

  2. Hi Brandon:

    According to Facebook’s help section, chat messages on Facebook are not logged permanently. I am referring to this help page: under the question “How do I delete or look through my Chat history? Is it saved permanently?”. The answer reads:

    You can view recent conversation history by opening a chat window with your friend. You cannot view older conversations at this time or conversations with friends who are not currently online.

    To clear your chat history just click the “Clear Chat History” link at the top of your Chat window. While message history is saved from page to page, and even between login sessions, please note that it is not logged permanently.

    This implies that you do need help from the other person to see the past conversation. I hope that answers your question. If you want to take it a step further, you could try contacting Facebook directly for help. The best way to do that appears to be filling out their contact form here

    Note I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. I don’t know if any of our lawyers can comment about accessing an IM conversation without the other party’s consent. If in doubt, best thing would be to try finding a lawyer familiar with Internet-related technology.

    Does this help?


  3. I had a facebook account for awhile, I didn’t use it much for over a year, maybe more. I added a friend at the friend’s request and within a few days I ended up adding dozens of friends through a network of friends (close to 100). I was a prominent member of an organization of which former members now seek support through networking tools like facebook.

    In addition to adding many friends I did have some nude pictures on there, I admit that I did not read the fine print and I thought that only a few friends could see the pictures.

    I’m a little surprised that freedoms are surpressed and censorship is so punitive when facebook friendships are restricted to only those you allow to see your account. What happens between friends is the business of facebook? I was sharing pictures with close friends only. I wouldn’t want my mom to see them, therefore I wouldn’t accept her as a friend. Without warning my account was disabled.

    I have mixed feelings about it. I question how “private” facebook is and I question their “punishment.” There was never an opportunity to correct the situation, which I would have gladly done. I question the “right” facebook has to allow you to establish a network that they arbitrarily take away, without any kind of due process there will be friends with which I will never be able to reconnect.

    There are limits to how much any business can regulate or censor its customers, even violate their constitutional rights, when they invite the public to their business. If I am in a store and the store doesn’t like a picture I show a friend, can the store kick me out? Can they ban me from the store permanently? How far does public policy allow us to go with the censorship?

    Facebook is a private company, but so is the telephone company and they can’t disconnect a call because they don’t like the subject of my conversation. The post office is not public and they can’t refuse to deliver mail for which they find the contents offensive. If I violate the policies of the phone company, post office or any store they do not have the right to dismiss me permanently without a warning, notice or hearing. Personally, I think it is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    Generally harm or loss must attach. In addition to the emotional distress people suffer, what about the connections people make to stay with others around the world? When those connections are lost, it isn’t difficult to calculate a monetary loss. In addition to many other scenarios, there may even be medical or healthcare advice being exchanged that could cause serious injury or death. I realize that facebook is putting the public on “notice” when it has the policy online. However, those wrap-around or adhesion contracts do not stand up in every state. Facebook should have an expectation that they could be hauled into court in any jurisdicton through long arm statutes and international treaty. I’m sure they address that in their “contract” as well, but, again, those don’t always stand up.

    What’s also interesting is that apparently some receive a warning and some do not. This is but one of the warnings found on facebook’s “help center warnings.”

    “You received this warning because a photo or video that you uploaded has been removed for violating Facebook’s Terms of Use. Photos and videos containing nudity, drug use, or other graphic content are not allowed, nor are photos or videos that depict violence or that attack an individual or group. Unfortunately, for technical reasons, we are unable to provide further information about the removed content. In order to prevent this from happening in the future, please refrain from posting photos or videos of this kind and remove any that still exist on the site.”

    Apparently there are different standards for different individuals. It would be interesting to see the different standards used for different groups. In other words, is facebook discriminating? Does facebook have less tolerance for gays, lesbians, blacks, hispanics, women, etc.? They invited the public, they have to play by the rules of our society. The rules include some constitutional rights. While it is true that I don’t have to join facebook anymore than I have to go to a store, it is also true that no one ever said facebook had to open a business and invite the public.

  4. Same here: got account disabled after 3 “meaningless” warnings, and no reply from customer service.

    I have contents that I would at least get back, in order to put them on another Site.

    am going to sue them