Documenting our lives on social media has become second nature. When an event occurs, we immediately take a picture and post it to some sort of social media account. Most people do not consider the legal consequences of what they put on their social media accounts.
I recently put a meme on Instagram that read, “Dance like no one is watching; email like it may one day be read aloud in a deposition.” I would apply this quote to all social media outlets. If you would not want what you are about to post to be read aloud in a deposition or shown to a jury one day in open court, it is probably best not to post it.
The courts have had to rule on privacy issues when it comes to Facebook and other social media outlets. The trend has been, in federal courts and in Florida, that if you choose to post something on social media, you are waiving your privacy, even if you have your privacy settings set to the most private. The courts have rationalized that you are putting it out there for the world to see; and therefore, you are waiving your constitutional privacy rights.
For example, if you have been injured in a car accident and are involved in personal injury litigation, defense counsel will more than likely request that you produce all social media pictures from the date of injury to present. The courts have ruled this request is relevant as it can show whether in fact you are injured.
Courts have issued similar rulings in all types of litigation from family cases to criminal cases. There must be a finding of relevance, which is not hard to do.
One final piece of advice, if you know you are preparing for litigation, it is a very bad idea, to think, “I need to clean up my social media accounts.” If you start deleting posts and pictures, you are destroying potential evidence. This could get you into more trouble, and is potentially illegal. Keep your accounts to the most secure settings, and just think before you post.
Heather Bryan is an experienced criminal and family lawyer. Contact us online or call us at 863-825-5309 for your consultation.