A Plaintiff’s Guide to Social Media
Social media has become an essential part of people’s lives, so much so that we often don’t even think about what we share with the world. You may not remember what you had for dinner two months ago, but a quick scan of your Instagram or Facebook feed could reveal the meal, restaurant, and even the people you ate with. We’re so used to sharing every minute detail of our lives with friends and followers, you might be surprised at the wealth information you’ve willingly disclosed. But if you’re a plaintiff involved in a lawsuit, those social media posts could come back to haunt you.
Nothing is “Private” on Social Media
Just because your social media accounts are set to “private” doesn’t mean you’re shielded from outside scrutiny, especially when you’re a plaintiff in a lawsuit. During the discovery phase, each party is able to obtain evidence in order to present their case. This is a critical phase in any lawsuit, and along with other documents and correspondence, your social media history is fair game.
This fact was cemented in a somewhat famous case involving a personal injury claim in Florida. The defense requested access to photos posted on the plaintiff’s Facebook page. The court ultimately sided with the defense, stating that posts made to social media do not fit the definition of a “reasonable right to privacy,” regardless of the fact that the plaintiff’s account was set to “private.”
Resist the Urge to Delete All
Hearing that your social media posts could be used against you in court can be unsettling, but you must resist the urge to wipe your post history. This may seem counterintuitive, but you have an obligation to preserve any information that may be on your computer, phone, or online repositories. This includes your email accounts, cloud storage, and social media. Keep in mind that the defense may already have copies of the very information you’re destroying, and that fact alone could hurt your case more than if you had preserved it.
The best thing you can do is fully and completely disclose any information you’ve posted online that relates to your case. Even posts made to closed support groups like Essure Problems should be divulged. The last thing you want is for a potentially damaging post coming to light without your attorney being prepared for it.
Avoid Discussing Your Case Online
When it comes to your claim, the court of public opinion is irrelevant. You should avoid online discussions about your case with friends, family, and especially strangers. It’s understandable to be upset and need to vent your frustrations when dealing with issues like dangerous medical devices or corporate wrongdoing. You just have to remember that your own words could be used as a weapon against you, and the pen has always been mightier than the sword.