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Social media complicates former business owner's bankruptcy

Washington residents following the news might have noticed that social media seems to pop up in a surprising number of articles and news stories. Although not necessarily at fault for any of the incidents social media is mentioned alongside, the integrating of technology and popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter into daily life is constantly reflected in these types of stories. However, the more integrated social media becomes, the quicker laws concerning bankruptcy and asset forfeiture must evolve to keep up. 

When the owner of a gun store filed for bankruptcy, he conceded ownership of the store. According to the former owner, during this time, he turned over all of the business' property to its new owner. However, the judge overseeing the bankruptcy disagreed and sentenced the man to over six weeks behind bars after he refused to turn over two social media passwords. 

According to the judge, passwords -- one for a Twitter account and the other to a Facebook page -- advertised for and posted on behalf of the business, and therefore count as its property. The man denied this, saying that these were his personal accounts on which he sometimes posted content relevant to his business. Controversial subjects allegedly exist on these pages, and the former owner feels as though his personal opinions on various matters are at risk of being censored. 

Former rulings on social media in bankruptcy do exist, but they do not necessarily demonstrate any type of consensus as to how passwords and accounts should be handled. However, this in no way indicates that there are no possible successful resolutions for individuals who file for bankruptcy in Washington, but are concerned about possible social media impact. For many people, the frontier of social media's role in bankruptcy is filled with an array of opportunities to set agreeable and positive precedents for future bankruptcy filers.

Source: U.S. News World Report, "Ex-gun store owner's standoff over social media passwords charts new legal territory", Juan A. Lozano, July 5, 2015

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