Social media posts – What everyone should be aware of

On behalf of Daniella Levi of Daniella Levi & Associates, P.C. posted in Social media on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.

It has been estimated that Americans spend 20 percent of their free time on social media. When posting on social media, you should always remain aware that when posting, you are providing an opportunity for persons with adverse interests to yours to learn the most intimate information about you.

For example, when teenagers and/or college students post photographs of themselves partying, binge drinking, using illegal drugs or in compromising sexual poses, they should be aware that these posts may find their way into the hands of family, potential employers, school admission officers, romantic contacts, and others. Moreover, the content of a removed social media posting may continue to exist, on the poster’s computer, or in cyberspace in perpetuity.

In addition, when you are a litigant in a legal action, it may undermine yours position. For example, today, defense attorneys, rather than hire investigators to follow claimants with video cameras, may seek to locate YouTube videos or Facebook photos that depict a “disabled” plaintiff engaging in activities that are inconsistent with the claimed injuries. It is now common for attorneys and their investigators to seek to scour litigants’ social media pages for information and photographs. Demands for authorizations for access to password-protected portions of an opposing litigant’s social media sites are becoming routine.

Recent ethics opinions in New York have concluded that accessing a social media page open to all members of a public network is ethically permissible to lawyers. However, they also concluded that there are no ethical constraints on advising clients to use the highest level of privacy/security settings that is available. Such settings will prevent adverse counsel (in a litigation context) from having direct access to the contents of the client’s social media pages, requiring them to request access through formal discovery channels.

The recent opinion also concluded that attorneys may properly review a client’s social media pages, and advise that certain materials posted on a client’s social media page may be used against the client for impeachment or similar purposes so long as the lawyer does not advise to suppress evidence that the lawyer or the client has a legal obligation to reveal or produce.

In conclusion, don’t forget that EVERYTHING you post on social media will forever remain there. If you want to maintain your life private, set your privacy setting on the highest level and take a moment to think about what you are posting and how it may impact your life down the road.

It’s a bell you cannot un-ring!