Justice Anne Ferguson of the Victorian Supreme Court recently ordered an interim injunction be issued in the case involving the National Union of Workers members engaging in protest action at the Coles distribution plant in Somerton. The injunction was essentially to prevent union members taking any further action that may impede access in and out of the plant. The more novel aspect of the injunction was Justice Ferguson’s order that the union when informing its members of the injunction, also use its Twitter and Facebook accounts.
The use of Twitter and Facebook as a communication medium for notification of court orders is a novel and fairly clear example of the relatively mainstream and widely accepted use of social media throughout most aspects of contemporary life, including in this case in a major workplace dispute. Presumably the more complex aspects of this type of scenario involve to what extent communication via platforms such as Twitter will amount to sufficient notification; what, if any, privacy implications flow from the use of publicly accessible social media platforms to advise of court orders; and the effect(s) of the increasingly pervasive assumption that most people engage with social media including within their workplace.
The law may still be grappling with the legal implications of social media and what the intersection of the law should be with social media in a number of different forums. Whilst this debate continues, however, and the law struggles to catch up with recent technological innovations, it would appear clear that the innovations in and the level of societal engagement with social media will continue regardless.
On these facts, the added use of social media platforms in this case, to notify members of an injunction affecting them, would appear to be an innovative attempt to provide the broadest possible notification by engaging social media as a means of quickly and efficiently reaching a broad section of the population.