A Question of Internet Privacy and Social Networking

In the first case of its kind, Pietrylo v Hillstone Restaurant Group, d/b/a Houston’s Restaurant, 2009 WL 3128420 (D.N.J. Sept.25, 2009), we represented two employees, who were fired by their former employer for allegedly making derogatory comments about their jobs outside of work on a private MySpace group page.

One of the employees created a MySpace group page called “The Spectator” as a place for Houston’s employees to “vent about any BS” they encountered at work. He selected all of the privacy controls offered by MySpace in setting up the page. The group was designated as “private”, meaning access to the group was limited to MySpace users who received an invitation from him to join the group. Only he, not invited members, could send out invitations. He invited several Houston’s employees, but no managers or upper management personnel. The invitees included a female Houston’s greeter. The greeter accepted the invitation and became an authorized member of the group. Access to the group was through the member’s email address and personal, private password.

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