Feeds

Florida judges banned from 'friending' lawyers on Facebook

What would people think?!

Security for virtualized datacentres

Florida judges are barred from becoming Facebook friends with local lawyers because the online relation implies they're BFFs in RL, the Sunshine State's legal ethics board has decided.

In November, the Florida Supreme Court's Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee determined that judges cannot include lawyers as friends on certain social network sites because the term "friends" conveys the traditional meaning of close affection.

The Committee said listing lawyers as "friends" is a violation of one of Florida's Code of Judicial Conduct canon rules that states a judge may not "convey or permit others to convey they are in a special position to influence the judge."

It stated that the issue at hand isn't whether the lawyer is actually in a position to influence the judge, but that others on the internet may see the listing as a true declaration of friendship.

"While judges cannot isolate themselves entirely from the real world and cannot be expected to avoid all friendships outside of their judicial responsibilities, some restrictions upon a judge's conduct are inherent to the office," the committee wrote.

As noted in WSJ law blog the oddness of the ruling lies in the rapid decay of the meaning of "friend" in the context of a social network. When websites like Facebook and MySpace were in their infancy, adding a "friend" usually implied a pre-existing at-least-semi-close relationship. Today, "friending" is an adjective on the web and no more intimate than a handshake.

Those sentiments were expressed by the minority opinion of the committee:

The minority concludes that social networking sites have become so ubiquitous that the term "friend" on these pages does not convey the same meaning that it did in the pre-internet age; that today, the term "friend" on social networking sites merely conveys the message that a person so identified is a contact or acquaintance; and that such an identification does not convey that a person is a "friend" in the traditional sense.

Trust Florida to make this an issue, but "friend" is a loaded bit of lexicon to be making due with. And it's clearly stuck in the public consciousness. Hell, "unfriend" was the New Oxford American Dictionary's 2009 word of the year. We're already passing on meta uses of the word. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.