Do you want to be working on behalf of the opposing party to help them build their case?
What a shocking question. Of course not – no one does.
But in this era of social media use, tweets, postings or entries which may provide information or which may be misconstrued can work to your disadvantage or aid a party claiming against you or document the case of a party defending against your claim.
You should consider any internet site, not limited to Facebook, Twitter, other social media sites, any dating site, a chat room, a professional listing, a business related website, a video on YouTube or any other posting, site or internet information as potentially available to the other side in your court action or claim.
Think of a party in a divorce who claims not to have any financial resources but claims to participate in expensive activities on a dating site; or a party being sued for divorce who claims not to have had any relationship with an opposite sex co-worker but who appears on his or her or another Facebook account in very friendly pictures with that person; or think of a personal injury claimant who claims to be totally disabled but tweets about his or her physical activities; or imagine a parent seeking custody of his or her children claiming to be the better custodian of the child but who is found online in inappropriate places exposes himself or herself to examination and question.
Some lawyers are suggesting just not using social media. This may be very good advice if you can’t control your postings and consider how they may sound or look taken out of context.
If you say something derogatory about the other parent of your child, how will it come off when he or she argues to the Court that you may derogatory comments about him or her down in front of the kids? If you are unavailable for a deposition or examination, how will that look if the internet appears to document some activity at the time of your unavailability not seeming to justify your absence?
One must even be concerned about postings made by friends or family talking about you, putting images on sites or speaking about your ailments, activities or partners.
The good news may be that the microscope review of your activity is not the only direction in which online information runs. What does your opponent have online? Mining of internet material may be a worthwhile investment of time.
We have always cautioned clients to be careful and prudent as to what they say or do in dealing with others regarding a claim, contested litigation or while defending a claim. Today, that advice must include what they do or put online and what their family and “friends” do or put online.