Social Media: Beware Of What You Post, Tweet, Or Share

Zachary Poole

     In today’s age of social media, expressing one’s feelings or thoughts is a click away.  Having a smart phone literally places the internet at your fingertips on a daily basis.  As people are adapting and becoming more comfortable with social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, the legal field must adapt too.  In our practice, we enjoy the use of social media to promote and manage our business.  Social media provides access to millions of users who otherwise may not know your business or the types of services you provide.  Social media also provides a unique avenue to remain in contact with old and new friends, or to catch up on the latest news.

     There is no doubt that social media provides numerous benefits to its users, and to the public in general.  However, in the practice of law, the use of social media by a client can be very impactful to a case.  More likely than not, when a case is being litigated the issue of social media and the post or stories shared by a Defendant or Plaintiff will be a topic of discussion.  Depending on which side of the equation you are on, the use of social media can bolster a case, or be the case’s downfall.  For example, let’s say that a Plaintiff In a personal injury case is claiming they sustained a severe back and neck injuries as the result of an auto accident.  Let’s also say that same plaintiff gives a deposition under oath and testifies to their daily struggles in dealing with their neck and pack, including the pain and suffering it causes them.  Now imagine, during the deposition, Defense counsel shows a video to the Plaintiff of them squatting 400lbs at the gym one week prior to the deposition.  The video then goes on to show the Plaintiff bragging to friends about how much weight they can lift.  This scenario would absolutely destroy that Plaintiff’s case.  The likelihood of a jury seeing that particular social media post is high, in that it directly contradicts what the Plaintiff had previously claimed about their back and neck injuries.

     In family Court cases, social media evidence is routinely used.  For example, a parent wants to seek full custody of their child.  That parent claims the other parent would rather be at bars drinking, and doing illegal drugs than utilizing their parenting time.  The social media post of the accused parent reveals pictures of them out drinking at a bar which are time stamped and dated during times when that parent is supposed to have custody of the child.  This evidence can be severely detrimental to the accused parent’s case.  Specifically, the post corroborates the parent who is seeking custody’s story. 

     Here at Fredeking & Biser, we use and enjoy the benefits that social media offers.  However, when it comes to litigation, what you post can be harmful and detrimental to your case.  Thus, we strongly advise you or a loved one to think before you post.  Once your post is out on the World Wide Web, it is almost impossible to get it back.