By in Breaking News

Would you go to jail to keep your Facebook account?

Would you be willing to spend seven weeks in jail in order to hold on to your Facebook account? That's what Jeremy Alcede of Houston, TX did.

Alcede was the owner of a gun shop that went bankrupt. When the business was taken over through the bankruptcy by a former associate, Alcede refused to hand over to the new owner the passwords to his Facebook and Twitter accounts. He argued that those accounts were purely personal, and did not belong to the business.

The bankruptcy judge did not agree. He ruled that Alcede used those accounts as advertizing avenues to drive business to the gun store. For instance, Alcede had put up a Facebook post about his attendance at a gun show. The judge said that was a classic example of attempting to establish a reputation in the gun business, not just a personal "here's what I did today" kind of post.

Because of his refusal to turn over the passwords, Alcede went to jail, and stayed there for seven weeks. But in the end, he gave in and provided the passwords in order to get out of jail.

The judge said “This dispute is a familiar story of a disgruntled former business partner attempting to stymie his former associate by seizing control of assets that do not belong to him.” He did acknowledge, however, that this area of bankruptcy law is entirely new, with few established precedents.

In the end, I think the judge got it right. I don't have a lot of sympathy for Alcede. But this case is also a warning for the rest of us to be careful not to entangle our personal social media accounts with our business or job responsibilities.

Image Credit » Christopher at (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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FourWalls wrote on July 6, 2015, 2:18 PM

This is precisely why people should set up a Facebook account for their business and NOT tie it to their personal account. Heck, it's FREE, what's the problem?

WritingLover wrote on July 6, 2015, 2:59 PM

No I'd never go to jail over something like that, its not worth it.

CoralLevang wrote on July 6, 2015, 3:13 PM

Technology and social networking has changed the face of the way we do business. People think that they are exempt from it, thinking that a FB account is a mere extension of self. It will be interesting to see how the laws will change (or not) as we continue to travel the information super-highway.

GemOfAGirl wrote on July 6, 2015, 3:40 PM

I agree that the judge got it right. Everybody I know who owns a business keeps their business Facebook account separate from their personal account, as I believe they should - business is public, and personal is personal. Good accounting principles state that that business and personal affairs should be kept separate, and I believe the same should hold true for the advertising of a company as well.

GemOfAGirl wrote on July 6, 2015, 3:41 PM

Oh, and as a more direct answer to the direct question, would I go to jail to keep my FB account? If it was a business account, I'd hand it over to the business. But if it was my personal account, then no - I'd offer to delete my account instead.

msiduri wrote on July 6, 2015, 4:51 PM

This was silly and sad. I can see what he was trying to do—hold on to contacts he had to set up another business and keep them away from his partner—but that ain't gonna fly. Separate business and personal accounts are a must. He's got a chance now.

bestwriter wrote on July 7, 2015, 2:59 AM

When the Face Book account was used to promote business then the partner should have insisted on having access to the account when business was thriving. Anyway the judge did not think it wise to pose this question.

MelissaE wrote on July 7, 2015, 11:08 AM

You have made some great points here. I often will post my articles on my personal account. I wonder if that counts as advertising? I wonder if you can take your own things down before you hand over the passwords like photos and family information? It is such a slippery slope for all of us. Technology is completely changing how we do business and conduct our personal lives.

cmoneyspinner wrote on July 7, 2015, 1:16 PM

LOL. I already done lost the business. Why would I want to keep the Facebook account? (((O.o ???))) The judge probably hit the nail on the head. Dude was likely just being spiteful. But to spend seven weeks in jail? That's INSANE!

DWDavisRSL wrote on July 16, 2015, 4:07 PM

I have a personal FB account and one for my business as an author. Since I am a one man operation, the situation you describe will hopefully never apply to me. But I agree the judge got it right, providing there were many more examples than the one given of business related posts on the FB page.

DWDavisRSL wrote on July 16, 2015, 4:09 PM

Seven weeks of three hots and a cot, free medical care, probably had his teeth cleaned. He was bankrupt and probably stood the free room and board as long as he could.

cmoneyspinner wrote on July 16, 2015, 4:19 PM

Free? Do you know what could happen to you in a prison in 7 weeks time? I don't want to spend one night, one hour, one minute, one second … in a jail cell. I don't even care if it's solitary confinement and I'm not mixed in the general prison population. But that's just me!

cmoneyspinner wrote on July 16, 2015, 4:22 PM

P.S. On a personal note. I have had the misfortune of having to declare bankruptcy. I'd sleep on the streets before I sleep in a prison. It's likely if I was in jail I wouldn't sleep at all!!

DWDavisRSL wrote on July 16, 2015, 5:59 PM

I know jail is not anyplace I'd want to be, but he was in the local lockup, not in a maximum security prison. It must not have been too bad if he stayed that long. He could have walked out any time he wanted by giving over the information.

DWDavisRSL wrote on July 16, 2015, 6:05 PM

I've not experienced it personally but when I still worked as a CPA we would help people through it, in conjunction with their attorneys, and it was always hard to see the anguish some of them were going through. Most of the folks we dealt with were filing due to overwhelming tax debt.

cmoneyspinner wrote on July 16, 2015, 8:37 PM

Bottom line? He was just being stupid! On that we both agree, I'm sure. Thanks for your candid remarks. :)