If you watched our Facebook Live video last week, you got to hear us talk about the dangers of posting on Facebook during legal proceedings. While we specifically talked about Facebook, it doesn’t mean that other social media platforms aren’t dangerous to your case. Posts on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube can also have consequences if the wrong thing is said or done.
We received lots of feedback about the video, so we decided to give some more information as to why it is important to make sure that you keep your social media in check when it comes to legal proceedings. To find out more, read below:
Think Twice Before Posting Anything
This is one of the most important things to remember about your social media, even if you aren’t facing any legal proceedings. While social media is there for you to share things about your life, it’s very easy to take things too far. When you are mad at your employer over something you might think is unfair, don’t post and talk about how much you hate your job or your boss. If you and your significant other get into an argument, don’t turn to Facebook and share it with the world.
A rule of thumb to follow is to not post anything while you are fired up or emotional. If you have to ask yourself “Should I be putting this online?”, then the answer is probably no.
It’s Best to Go Silent
During legal proceedings, items found on your social media accounts could be seen as and used as evidence. This is why it is incredibly important to not delete your social media if you are in the midst of a legal proceeding. If you were to delete anything, whether it is a status, picture or your entire account, it could be seen as you destroying evidence that could be pertinent to the case. If this happens, you could be charged with destruction of evidence.
In the case of Allied Concrete Company v. Lester, the plaintiff deleted 16 photos from his account, and later deleted his entire Facebook account under the advisement of his lawyer. The man and his lawyer were both given sanctions due to the deletion of the account. The plaintiff was required to pay $180,000 and his lawyer was required to pay $542,000.
If you would like to see the different things that have been posted on own social media accounts, Facebook and Twitter offer ways to download and archive your account information. Facebook lets you download your information that contains posts, messages, photos and timeline information in a zip file. It also includes the advertisements clicked on from your account and the IP addresses that are logged when the account is used. Twitter will deliver all Tweets posted to an account, but does not contain IP address information.
This Isn’t Only For Defendants – It’s For the Jury, Too
While defendants in legal proceedings need to be wary about what is posted on their social media accounts, jurors also need to be aware of the information that they are sharing. In 2012, a Florida man was sentenced to three days in jail for “friending” a defendant on Facebook in a trial that he was on the jury for. The juror, after being dismissed from the trial, then posted on his personal Facebook page “Score… I got dismissed! Apparently, they frown upon sending a friend request to the defendant, haha.”
Also frowned upon? Creating a poll and asking your friends on social media to help you decide whether to vote “guilty” or “not guilty” for the trial you are a juror for.
At Fankhauser Rachel, PLC, we are real people who offer our clients real solutions when they are facing struggles and obstacles. If you have questions or concerns about how posts on social media could affect your upcoming legal proceedings, please contact us today.