Client Information Regarding Social Networking SitesMarch 21, 2017 —
How private are your social media sites? Probably not as private as you might think.
Information located on the Internet is increasingly being used for background checks on people involved in legal claims. It is very likely that someone representing the opposing party will search the Internet for anything they can find about you. This search will include anything posted on social media sites. Public records websites are also used to locate or verify information, as supplemental discovery, and to formulate deposition questions. In some instances Internet content has been used as evidence in court. Texts, messages, and emails also can be discoverable and potentially used as evidence in court. Even deleted information can often be recovered.
If you choose not to make your accounts private, we warn you to use great caution when using these sites. Whatever you have posted or written on your account could potentially, and probably will, fall into the hands of a defense attorney or insurance company.
If you have such a site, you should immediately verify that all of your settings are on PRIVATE and that nothing is public. And, even with the highest privacy settings, you should only write or post items that cannot be used against you. These sites are often open to the public and the law is unclear if or to what extent privacy laws apply.
The following are recommendations for when you decide to use your social networking sites:
- Post anything about the specific case you are involved in.
- Send emails regarding your case to anyone except your attorneys.
- Send texts regarding your case to anyone except your attorneys.
- Write or disclose anything about your personal life that you would be embarrassed to have a defense attorney use against you in front of a judge and jury.
- Post any photographs or video of yourself (or enable others to “tag” you).
- Allow anyone to become a “friend” on a website like Facebook unless you are absolutely sure you know that person.
- Participate in blogs, chat-rooms, or message boards.
- Enter insurance websites.
- Do not use an employer’s computer for personal purposes
- Inform your attorney’s office if you use sites like Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites.
We understand that asking you to limit your social networking may be a great inconvenience. We wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important. Our job is to protect your interests and we cannot fully protect you unless you follow our warnings and instructions on the use of social media.
One last point -- Our law firm and staff members do use social media and someone from our firm may “friend” you so we can periodically review your social media content and let you know if we have any concerns.
If you have any questions or concerns about our recommendations regarding the use of social media sites, please do not hesitate to contact our office.