A federal court in New York has determined that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which has alleged that defendants based in India “operated a scheme that tricked American consumers into spending money to fix non-existent problems with their computers,” may serve motions and other post-complaint documents on specific defendants by email and by message to their Facebook® accounts. FTC v. PCCare247 Inc., No. 12-7189 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D.N.Y., order entered March 7, 2013).

As to the Facebook® service, the court acknowledged that this “is a relatively novel concept, and that it is conceivable that defendants will not in fact receive notice by this means. But, as noted, the proposed service by Facebook is intended not as the sole method of service, but instead to backstop the service upon each defendant at his, or its, known email address. And history teaches that, as technology advances and modes of communication progress, courts must be open to considering requests to authorize service via technological means of then-recent vintage, rather than dismissing them out of hand as novel.” Because FTC had made good faith efforts to serve motions and post-complaint documents on the defendants by other means and because the defendants had notice of the proceedings, “as evidenced by their appearance through counsel,” the court agreed that the matter could no longer await the already delayed service through the Indian Central Authority.

Where a litigant sets forth “facts that supply ample reason for confidence that the Facebook accounts identified are actually operated by defendants” thus demonstrating “a likelihood that service by Facebook message would reach defendants,” the court ruled that service by Facebook® account comports with due process.