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 www.flickr.com/photos/exalthim/2063910725 (CC BY-SA 2.0)