Be Picky About What You Post: How Online Activity Could Hurt You in Court
In our technology-driven society, social media has become a way of life. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and more is an outlet for sharing information, connecting with a wide variety of people, and staying current on news and events, especially since COVID-19 came on the scene. Much of our lives have and continue to revolve around our phones, tablets, and computers. Much of our daily activity takes place on some type of online platform, from grocery pickup and Amazon orders to Zoom meetings and Facetime calls with friends. However, the prevalence of social media can be the downfall of someone involved in a legal battle, specifically those facing divorce or accident cases, since these often involve multiple parties and can be emotionally charged. We advise our clients to limit information shared online, specifically within social media platforms. Why?
Once information is on the internet, it is, in many regards, a form of public property. In other words, it could be used (potentially) as a tool against you by the legal team of the opposing party. Even information sent to someone directly can be monitored and used as evidence when done within social media or public platforms. It is always best to keep your interactions face-to-face, or at the very least, over a phone call, when the information being discussed pertains to your case. With that being said, utilizing information pulled via social media sharing is a process that depends on multiple factors.
An attorney planning to use information pulled from the internet (specifically from social media) must have proof that the social media account belongs to the person in question. This can usually be done by verifying login information, email addresses, etc. However, this is not a guarantee that someone else wasn’t using it to post the questionable content. To prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual was responsible for putting out specific information, multiple layers of authentication are necessary. Pulling IP addresses, comparing an alibi with computer records, and other forms of computer forensics are necessary to make a solid case using social media content as a form of evidence, but it can be done, and has been used in multiple cases over the last few years. How could this affect you? If you are sharing photos or information about your legal proceedings, you could be putting valuable information at risk, and that can actually mean you end up with less-than-desirable results from your case. If you are in the middle of a trial, or even if you’re looking at one in the near future, limit your online sharing to things completely non-related to legal matters, or even better, just cut back on social networking altogether until your trial is complete.
Why not just delete any troublesome content? That can actually cause bigger issues in the long run. Removing content after the fact can be seen as suspicious by some courts and can actually harm your case and your credibility. It’s better to leave information off the internet to begin with, instead of trying to clean it up later on.
Sessums Law Group is skilled in obtaining the best possible results in each individual case that comes through our door. By guiding our clients on the dos and don’ts of preparation for a trial, we make sure they get adequate compensation as they move forward. We are here for you every step of the way when the unexpected happens…WE STAND FOR YOU!