If you’re involved in a legal dispute and you belong to a public social networking account, such as Facebook, Instagram, Myspace, YouTube, Twitter, etc., I strongly recommend that you close your accounts until your matter is completely over.
Social networking has had a significant impact on how lawyers, investigators, and insurance adjusters are handling cases. It is now standard practice to run computer searches and investigations into social networking accounts to obtain information about the personal lives of those involved in legal disputes. The hope is to find information that can be used against you and often times, information or photographs are taken out of context to prove their point.
This is the case even if you have a simple automobile accident claim and aren’t being represented by a lawyer. For example, if you’ve had the unfortunate experience of suffering from a physical injury from a car accident and have reported your injuries to the insurance company, the insurance company will often times search your social media accounts for photos or comments following the accident to show that you have either exaggerated your injuries or to try to prove your claim altogether false.
With that said, you may decide not to close your accounts while your matter is pending. If so, I recommend that you immediately place all your accounts on the highest PRIVACY setting possible; that you do not accept any new “friends” on your accounts; that you do not publish (e.g. post, text, email, etc.) any photos, videos, or information about yourself while your matter is pending; and, do not allow others to tag you.
The law is unclear if or to what extent privacy laws apply to certain social networking accounts. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call me at (209)465-6633 and I’d be happy to help in any way I can.
-Trina Cervantes, Esq.