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Service by Social Media

Court How-Tos (Civil Procedure)

It is possible to notify someone about a lawsuit by social media if you follow certain steps.

Social media has become a central form of communication. This article reviews the options for substituted service of process via social media, as outlined by the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code.

What is service of process?

"Service of process" is how you give someone notice of a lawsuit. Whenever you file a lawsuit, you must properly inform the person, people, or businesses that could be affected by your case that you have filed. This is called giving legal notice. It is not enough to send the other side a copy of the complaint, or to tell them verbally.

Can you serve someone a citation through Facebook, Twitter, or another social media platform?

Yes. You can serve someone a citation through Facebook, Twitter, or another social media platform. Substituted service through social media is authorized under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 17.033

Can I ask for service by social media when I start the suit?

Not usually. You have to ask the court to allow service by social media. You do this by filing a motion, and persuading the court to grant the motion and issue an order allowing it.

If another type of service (such as substituted service) has not worked, ask your judge if you can have someone served through an alternative method. See How to Serve the Initial Court Papers. So, service of process is a kind of "alternative service." If you can show the judge that the alternative method you’ve come up with will successfully get the other party served, the judge may allow it. The bar is high to prove that social media is the best alternative method because of issues of privacy and ensuring the intended person actually received the notice. 

Can I use social media to show that I am trying to find the other side?

Social media can also be helpful to build up proof that you know where the other party is located. If you can verify that the social media account is the other party’s account, the judge may use the proof that you have to allow service to a location that is indicated on social media.

How do I learn more about service by social media in my county?

Check with your court. Look at the court's web site to see its local rules and procedures. Talk to a lawyer who practices in your jurisdiction about it.

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