I just saw a headline on MSNBC asking if what you post on Facebook can be used against you. The article focuses on what your employer can do with your social media posts.
So, can what you post on social media be used against you?
Ok, joking aside, many social media users do share a lot. So for the new year, perhaps it would do some people well to step back, think about how much they share, and ask, is it wise to post that bit of information?
This year, I have watched people insult their bosses, spouses and friends. I have read article after article about people being fired from their jobs, losing lawsuits/being forced to settle for lower amounts, getting arrested, getting in trouble with their parents (the last one probably the scariest) all because of what they post online.
Sometimes, when the law gets involved, there are ramifications for the person doing the looking rather than the person doing the posting, but that is pretty rare. Most of the time, it is perfectly acceptable for someone to use what you post on social media against you.
Looking at the past year and the lawsuits I have seen, we can ascertain:
1. Yes you can be fired for what you post online, unless what you posted is protected in some way. Most things, not protected.
2. Yes your lawsuit can be impacted by what you post online, unless what you post is hidden (read private) in some way. Most things, not properly hidden.
3. Yes your custody/alimony/divorce case can be affected by what you post online, especially since you forgot to unfriend your ex-spouse, or never even considered unfriending your mutual friends, or maybe your children; and yes that information will come up in court.
4. Yes, you can be arrested if you engage in illegal activity and post about it online, same if your post is itself illegal activity.
5. Oh, and attorneys, yes you can get in trouble if your client deletes information from his social media account.
Here’s what it comes down to. Social media, by its nature, is public. If you claim you broke your back in a car accident and start jumping up and down in a public place, you wouldn’t be particularly surprised if it affected your law suit, would you? Well, if you take video of yourself jumping up and down and post it on Facebook, now you have provided direct evidence that can be used in court, assuming opposing counsel can get his hands on it. Why provide that evidence? (Also, why are you saying you broke your back, but that is another issue.)
So, ladies and gentlemen, I wish you a happy, healthy, peaceful, successful new year. And I ask you, not for my sake but for yours, please tell me less.