Many people live two lives. There’s real life and there’s a social media life. For better or worse, that social media life is in reality a public life.
Twitter and Facebook are filled with photos of travels, videos of a child’s latest antics, articles on politics and sometimes items that no one should see. Friends share articles and opinions on LinkedIn. A favorite boutique posts the latest styles on Instagram. Celebrities showcase themselves on Snapchat. Elected officials tweet at us…and each other. Even seemingly private individuals become semi-celebrities when their online disclosures go viral.
The need to post, re-post, share, and comment on social media platforms has become so commonplace and interwoven into daily routines that many times people fail to recognize that these public displays are, well, public, says Inna G. Materese, an attorney with the Lansdale law firm Dischell Bartle Dooley.
The information shared online is not just posted in the privacy of social media accounts. Once information is tweeted, shared, commented upon or even deleted, it lives on in perpetuity for others to scrutinize. This includes a judge who might be presiding over a legal matter.
“In this age of endless sharing and compromised privacy, people are often caught off guard when their online personas rear their heads as evidence in the courtroom,” says Materese. “It’s important to remember that your online actions can and will be used as evidence.”
As long as the information can be authenticated as original, the court will consider your online posts. If entered into evidence, social media accounts may have a substantial impact on a legal case.
When it comes to posting personal information for the world to see during your pending legal case, the best practice is to exercise restraint, Materese says. The second best practice, she says, is to speak with your attorney about your social media accounts to determine whether they might have an impact on a legal matter.