I have spent considerable time telling people never to clean their social media accounts in planning for a lawsuit. But I have never mentioned the concept of cleaning up social media accounts as a general thing to do; something you routinely do as an individual or a business. That is, until yesterday. I was at a seminar with my partner, Ellen Freedman, last night where she ably discussed the many uses of social media. After Ellen completed her talk, I moved us into a discussion on discovery during which I covered the recent cases and other litigation issues, along with ethics concerns.
One person asked me a general question, should business have a written policy on destroying electronic data and did that apply to social media. I said absolutely, in fact I have a policy of cleaning up my own social media data every year. Everyone looked at me with a bit of surprise when I said this. Here’s the deal. I am a pretty private person. I don’t really like to share a lot about myself, and I don’t tend to. But having a lot of data just sitting out there still makes me uncomfortable.
I have repeatedly said I never post anything embarrassing, so it isn’t that I am ashamed of what I have written, I just don’t like to leave it up. So even though I realize someone could have saved my Facebook posts somewhere, every year, around this time of year, I clean out my social media accounts. Sometimes I do this twice a year. By cleaning up my account I mean I go back through the accounts and delete stuff. Generally I leave items related to speaking, blog posts, things like that, but I delete pretty much anything personal I said over the year. It just makes me feel more comfortable.
Should you do this? Well, it is up to you. But you might want to. Do keep one thing in mind if you are an attorney. Anything that you posted relating to legal marketing must be preserved for at least 2 years. So if you decide to delete anything from your Facebook account make sure you preserve it if it could be considered legal marketing. One way to do this is to download your entire Facebook account as it existed before you deleted anything. It is a simple enough process. Here are the directions.
Also keep in mind if you are a business or you are using your Facebook account for business purposes, it would be best to have a written policy about the fact that you routinely clean up your account every year. Otherwise you could end up with a negative inference against you should you be pulled into federal court for some reason.