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Social media: Keep a low profile when involved in a lawsuit

If you are involved in a lawsuit or litigation of any kind, you may want to think twice before pushing back on a Facebook troll who's getting under your skin. Just like the Miranda rights warning you hear on cop shows, "anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." That applies to Facebook and other social media as well. It also includes anything you have posted in the past or may be tagged into. Basically, your profile and entire social media history can be used as evidence against you.

It's a pretty scary thought because posting can be so random and in-the-moment that you may not even realize what you're posting has anything to do with your lawsuit. But even innocent or unrelated posts can be taken out of context and used against you as "evidence" you are not injured, for example, or that you are not in as much distress as you really are. 

Profile investigation

Opposing attorneys can string together items that may hurt your credibility or cull direct evidence against your from social media. Social media is fundamentally a public forum, so opposing counsel does not need any type of warrant to monitor you. If your privacy is set on friends only, it's feasible to just friend you and gain access. Lawyers may also seek out your various screen names to collect information and track you. Blog posts and online comments are fair game as well. Think of social media like a private eye, who is working for the other side 24-7.

Now that you are involved in litigation, you have some work to do to prevent your casual posts from becoming a nightmare. You will need to take some steps to figure out what information about you is on the internet and manage it going forward.

  • Become more private: As a first step, go to all of your social media accounts and either shut them down completely or maximize the privacy settings. Also, get a good look at who can see what on your profiles. Perhaps post that you will be off social media for a while and friends should just call you to keep in contact.
  • Limit public posts: It's difficult to stop responding to real friends on social media. After all, it's part of your communication process with them. But, start limiting them to PMs only. If you must post publicly, realize that anything you say can be brought up in court. 
  • Inform your friends and loved ones: Ask your close friends and relatives to avoid tagging you on photos and public posts. 

When involved in a lawsuit or any type of litigation, a good social media rule is, "out of sight, out of mind." 

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