Social Media has become a useful part of everyday life. We constantly spend a significant amount of our time sharing our lives with those online. It’s now a part of society, and we don’t even think twice about using it. However, in lawsuits, social media oftentimes becomes a disadvantage. Even joking between friends can possibly convince a judge and jury that a client is being dishonest. At Villari, Brandes, & Giannone, we don’t want to see a client denied the compensation they deserve because of a simple mistake on social media. Therefore, here are 10 tips to help clients to avoid these self-inflicted wounds.
- Archive all content on current sites. Sometimes destroying possibly incriminating content is worse than the content itself. That is why it is important to preserve the current content on the sites.
- Deactivate or stop using social media altogether. If this is impossible or not an option, be sure to archive all old content and avoid any sort of post in regard to the case in the future.
- Turn on the highest privacy settings. Another option if deactivation of social media is not an option, at least be sure that your privacy settings are at the highest level so only friends are able to see content.
- Be aware of “friends”. Make friends lists so that only people you trust can see your photo albums and status updates. Additionally, you should review your “friends” and remove anyone that you would not trust.
- Make yourself invisible. You can remove yourself from search results by adjusting your internet visibility settings. You can even remove yourself from Google searches through internet privacy settings.
- Take down photos. After archiving, you should take down and un-tag any photos of yourself that are not simple headshots.
- Be cautious. Assume that anything and everything that you write on social media will be used against you. So, be very cautious with the information you share.
- Preserve all computers, tablets, and cell phones. Never dispose of a device, as it can be interpreted as an attempt to destroy evidence. It’s easier to argue over access rights, than to explain why your cell phone suddenly ended up smashed.
- Don’t send messages or information about a case. Don’t send messages or emails about a case, even with privacy settings. One careless message can destroy a case.
- Don’t join websites or web chat groups.Avoid dating sites, chatrooms, forums, or blog posts, as these can also provide ammunition to be used against you in a case.
There are occasions when social media can be an asset to a case, but those instances are few and far between. Although you should consult an attorney before doing so, it is usually best to discontinue any social media presence during the length of a case. However, do not delete any data or media that already exists. Make sure you show your attorney all social media you are involved in at the beginning of a case.\n\nIf you are looking for an attorney to represent your best interests, call Villari, Brandes, & Giannone. Our team of Philadelphia injury lawyers have represented thousands of clients in claims and lawsuits in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and many other states around the country. We are dedicated to fighting for those who have been unjustly injured and making sure that they receive the compensation they deserve. Contact us or schedule a free online consultation now.
All information in this blog was provided by “Alert: Ten Social Media Warnings for Clients” by Ken Shigley and Michael Wilensky, originally printed in Trial Magazine (Vol. 52, No. 1- January 2016).