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What Sites Such as Facebook and Google Know and Whom They Tell

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When Disa Powell's husband and brother were badly burned in an electrical explosion while conducting maintenance at a Wal-Mart store and the family sued, the defense went after something she never expected: her online life.

Through a subpoena seeking information about the men's injuries, Wal-Mart was able to gain full access to her Facebook and MySpace social-networking accounts--every public and private message, contact and photo for the previous 2 1/2 years.

There were the pictures of Powell's newborn baby lying in a hospital bed after heart surgery (Label: "The hardest day of Mommy and Daddy's life"). The messages detailing problems with her pregnancy ("I got a bladder infection, which has moved to my kidneys"). And the messages dissing on friends ("Brad is a big fat BABY, and can't do anything by himself. The whole issue is that he's lazy").

"I was livid," said Powell, 35, a former hospital administrator who a few years ago moved from Maryland's Eastern Shore back to her home town in Oklahoma. "I felt like I had been seriously violated."

From The Washington Post
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