Staying Mindful Of Your Social Media Presence During Proceedings
For most of us, maintaining a social media presence is an everyday occurrence. In fact, more than half of all Americans use Facebook. Whether we maintain a blog, write the occasional status update, or use it to connect with friends and colleagues, our online presence plays a part in our daily lives. However, those who have suffered a personal injury need to be mindful: more and more lawyers are using plaintiff’s social media posts against them in trial.
How Attorneys Use Social Media In Court
During a trial, attorneys want to bring in as much personal information as possible, in order to strengthen their case. As such, all information posted on blogs and other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter should be presumed to be public, even if your privacy settings are strict. As noted, these types of posts have been involved in many recent court cases.
In particular, your social media profiles, screen names, and blog entries can be brought into the proceedings, especially if your privacy settings are more lax. However, even with the highest level of privacy settings, your personal social media information could be used, particularly if there is a subpoena issued.
Some defense lawyers have taken to asking plaintiffs to sign consent forms which will then be included in a subpoena and sent to sites like Facebook and Twitter. As the Federal Stored Communications Act generally governs posts on social media, sites aren’t typically required to send over that information.
How To Protect Yourself
Nevertheless, it’s extremely important to be mindful of your social media presence.
In particular, if you’re involved in a trial, it’s a smart idea to take some of the following social media steps:
- Shut down your social media accounts, including any blogs, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace. This is the most comprehensive option, though some may find it overzealous.
- Check your preferences, and make sure that your privacy settings are at their strictest.
- Monitor posts of others, particularly any photos or statuses that you may be tagged in.
- Be mindful of posting. Even a minor post or comment can be used against you.
Trials are often stressful. Being aware of your social media presence and how it can impact proceedings can prevent you from encountering even more difficulty during proceedings.