United States: You've Been (Virtually) Served; From Facebook Friend To Process Server: Service Of Process Via Facebook Messenger

Last Updated: August 27 2015
Article by Lauren Patten

It is no secret that social media has changed the face of the world in the last decade. Just ask Grumpy Cat. What is less evident, although no less true, is how social media has impacted the practice of law in the same amount of time. Just ask Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku.

Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku was married to Ellanora Arthur Baidoo in 2009. See Ellanora Arthur Baidoo v. Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku, 48 Misc.3d 309, 2015 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 977 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Mar. 27, 2015). The couple never lived together, however, and as of spring 2015, Ms. Baidoo only had spoken to her husband via telephone on a few occasions. Id. at *11.

In March 2015, Ms. Baidoo wanted a divorce; however, neither she nor her attorney could locate Mr. Blood-Dzraku to serve him with a divorce summons in order to initiate divorce proceedings. Id. at *5. The last address Ms. Baidoo had for her husband was from 2011, and when she had spoken with him, Mr. Blood-Dzraku informed his wife that he had no fixed address and no place of employment. Id. Equally frustrating, the post office had no forwarding address for Mr. Blood-Dzraku, and the New York Department of Motor Vehicles had no record of him either. Id. Eventually, Ms. Baidoo's attorney hired an investigation firm, which also was unable to locate Mr. Blood-Dzraku. Id. Running out of options, Ms. Baidoo petitioned the Supreme Court of New York, New York County for permission to serve her husband with the divorce summons through Facebook – and only Facebook. Id.

The court addressed the issue of whether Ms. Baidoo could serve her husband with a divorce summons solely through Facebook in Ellanora Arthur Baidoo v. Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku, 5 N.Y.S.3d 709 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Mar. 27, 2015). In beginning its analysis, the court listed the various methods through which service of process could be effectuated in New York. Id. at *4. The court noted, however, that pursuant to Section 308(5) of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of New York, a plaintiff could make an ex parte application with the court such that the court may "devise a method that fits the particular circumstances of the case." Id. Ms. Baidoo asked the court to do just that and to find that her service of the divorce summons via Facebook Messenger constituted an appropriate form of alternative service.

In evaluating Ms. Baidoo's application, the court noted that she must demonstrate (1) that she was unable to have the summons personally served on her husband; (2) that it would be "impractical" to serve him by "substitute" service; and (3) that sending the summons via Facebook could reasonably be expected to give her husband actual notice that he was being sued for divorce. Id. at *5.

According to the court, Ms. Baidoo "easily met" the first and second requirements, given that she had no found residential address, no employment address, and no forwarding address for her husband. Id. at *5. Additionally, Ms. Baidoo's private investigators had been equally unsuccessful. Consequently, according to the court, serving Mr. Blood-Dzraku personally or by substitute service most likely would be impossible. Id.

As to whether Facebook could reasonably be expected to give Mr. Blood-Dzraku actual notice that he was being sued for divorce, the court framed the question: If the summons for divorce is sent to Mr. Blood-Dzraku's Facebook account, is there a good chance he will receive it? Id. at *9.   In answering that question, the court looked to three elements: (1) does the Facebook profile actually belong to Mr. Blood-Dzraku; (2) is Mr. Blood-Dzraku diligent in logging in to his Facebook account; and (3) whether a backup means of service should be required under the circumstances. Id. at *10.

In answering these questions, Ms. Baidoo submitted an affidavit, to which she attached copies of exchanges she had had with her husband via Facebook Messenger as well as photographs from his Facebook profile, in which she identified Mr. Blood-Dzraku as the subject of the photographs. Id. The photographs confirmed Mr. Blood-Dzraku as the owner of the account, while Ms. Baidoo's exchanges with her husband evidenced the regularity with which Mr. Blood-Dzraku logged in to his account. Id. In reviewing Ms. Baidoo's affidavit and the accompanying documentation, the court was convinced that the Facebook account identified by Ms. Baidoo was that of Mr. Blood-Dzraku and that he checked it regularly. Id.

As to the third concern, whether a backup means of service was required under the circumstances, the court answered the questions in the negative. Id. at *12-13. According to the court, given the facts of the case, while service of process via Facebook Messenger is "novel and non-traditional, [it] is the form of service that most comports with the constitutional standards of due process. Not only is it reasonably calculated to provide defendant with notice that he is being sued for divorce, but every indication is that it will achieve what should be the goal of every method of service: actually delivering the summons to him." Id.

In reconciling its holding with the current state of the law, the court explained:

That a concept is new to the law is something that may very well require a court to exercise a high degree of scrutiny and independent legal analysis when judicial approval is sought. But a concept should not be rejected simply because it is novel or non-traditional. This is especially so where technology and the law intersect. In this age of technological enlightenment, what is for the moment unorthodox and unusual stands a good chance of sooner or later being accepted and standard, or even outdated and passé. And because legislatures have often been slow to react to these changes, it has fallen on courts to insure that our legal procedures keep pace with current technology.

 Id. at *8-9.

If Mr. Blood-Dzraku's experience in divorce court is any indication, courts may lead the way in dragging various anachronistic legal processes and procedures in to the twenty-first century.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.