Social Media Use During Your Lawsuit
When you have an active lawsuit, or even before you file one, you should limit your social networking. While this might be a great inconvenience, your case is very important. Lawyers and investigators check social media sites for posts, comments, and images of you that could negatively impact your case. Courts often require parties to disclose email, text messages, pictures, and even comments by others that appear on your social media pages. Innocent and harmless joking between private “Friends,” could be used and distorted by the other side to try to convince a judge and jury that you are dishonest.
- Before posting any information, photographs, or documents to the internet, analyze whether the information has the potential to harm your case or paint you in a negative light. This should include publicly posting any information to friends’ pages, walls, or networking accounts or emails. The best practice, is not to post any information on social media.
- If your friends and family members post pictures or information about you, “tag” you at a specific location with them on his/her wall, you should make them aware of these guidelines and ask them to follow them as well. You can also adjust privacy settings to where you have to approve when someone tags you.
- It is completely appropriate to correspond through e-mail or text with your attorneys and legal team from your private accounts (not provided by your employer), but you should not send a private message via social networking accounts, personal e-mail accounts or text with friends and family members about your legal case or about attorney-client communications.
- Never post or provide comments to the internet publicly by means of blogging, chat rooms, message board or any other comment.
- Never post any information about your legal case to the internet or to social media websites. This includes blogging, chat rooms, message boards, private messaging, etc.
- Do not engage in e-mail correspondence with people you do not know. Defense attorney and investigators are known to send “friend” requests to plaintiffs, using false names.
- Set all social media accounts (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, e-mail, etc.) to the highest privacy settings and ensure that virtually no information is available to someone searching the website unless the person is your “friend.” You should become very familiar with the privacy settings for each network or email account you own, to make sure that (1) others are unable to “tag” pictures/videos of you to social network accounts or to “post” to your wall, (2) that photograph/postings sharing/viewing are password protected and completely private by those selected viewers “friends” (3) that only “Friends” are able to view your wall/photographs (4) that your settings are on PRIVATE and nothing is public.
- Never accept friends on social media websites that you do not recognize or trust. To protect your privacy and your attorney/client confidentiality do not communicate through social media to your attorneys or staff.
- Search your name, city of residence and e-mail address (together and separately) through a search engine such as Google, to determine potentially vulnerable information.
- You do not need to delete prior postings or to delete your accounts. In fact, if you do so, you may be committing a spoliation of evidence and would allow the other side to presume whatever you deleted was harmful to your case.
-Bradley A. Coxe is a practicing attorney in Wilmington, NC who practices in Personal Injury, Car Accidents, Medical Malpractice, Contract and Real Estate disputes, and all forms of Civil Litigation. Please contact him at (910) 772-1678.