Living your life online? Those posts could come back to haunt you
By Scaringi & Scaringi P.C.
You don’t have to look very far today to see the impact of social media and the Internet in our everyday lives. So it should come as no surprise that all this technology is having a profound impact on the law.
It has affected everything from how attorneys research, prepare and file your case to the evidence presented and even to the all-important outcome of who wins and who loses.
As a full-service law firm that handles civil litigation and employment-related cases, we offer the following advice on how to use all this technology in a way that won’t cause regrets down the road.
The information we post can and will be used against us
There is no Miranda warning when we use Facebook. But maybe there should be.
Why? Because information is power. And when it comes to a legal case, the more attorneys know, the better they can prove their case and undercut an opponent’s argument.
The reams of personal information people readily divulge online have proven to be a gold mine of potentially case-changing information.
Emails can be a potential legal minefield.
It’s common today to obtain email messages during discovery – and many times those emails can be damaging in court. Remember: never put anything in an email that you would not want the entire world to read.
Another thing to remember is that if you’re emailing from work, your employer owns that email. Yes, that means
emailing your best friend to complain about your boss isn’t a very good idea.
Early on, judges struggled to fashion rules for the use of electronic information as evidence. Ultimately, the courts have ruled that an email message or a cellphone text message can be used in the same way as any form of documentary evidence.
That means if the electronic record is deemed authentic and relevant, it’s probably admissible as evidence. Not only admissible, but potentially case-changing.
Facebook is an open book. Twitter is a shout-out to the world. And a picture can sink a case.
Facebook and other forms of social media can be a double-edged sword.
On one hand, Facebook is an empowering and impressive communication tool to connect with friends and tell the story of our lives, right down to its smallest detail and complete with pictures. So many pictures!
On the other hand, that information can come back to haunt, such as a photo of you playing volleyball after filing a workers’ comp claim. Or maybe something derogatory you wrote about a neighbor, a business or a past employer. All of it represents a legal minefield that can blow up in one’s face.
Angry posts tearing at someone’s character or sharply criticizing a business or service also can come back to bite. Cyber-related accusations of defamation of character, bullying and business interference are increasingly the subject of lawsuits.
A pause for reflection is a good idea before hitting “send’’ or clicking on “post.’’ Because once sent, that ill-advised email, text or post can never be recovered and could become very useful in making a case against you.