Information on Social Media Sites Available to Attorneys

posted August 5, 2011 | by

I know you love to update your Facebook status and Tweet awesome photos from lunch, but if you’re in a lawsuit, will social media help or harm you?

While PCMag.com is reporting that Facebook is losing U.S. users, Facebook still has approximately 150 million users in the United States alone, totaling about half of our country’s population. Expressing yourself and sharing information is what social media is all about. However, if you are involved in a lawsuit, the disclosure of your personal information could change the direction your case is headed.

In a recent article entitled “Digging Up Social Media’s Treasure Trove of Discovery” the term “Facebook frontier” is defined and discussed. The “Facebook frontier” is a way for lawyers to do research on a plaintiff or defendant in a case to see what they are telling the world – what’s really happening in their lives – instead of what they’re just telling their attorney.

The article cites a May 19th opinion by Judge Charles H. Saylor which allowed the defense counsel to review the plaintiff’s public and private portions of Facebook and MySpace pages. Rulings similar to this one have been seen in Pennsylvania, New York, Colorado, and Canada already.

If you’re scared, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Here are some tips on how to stay social media savvy:

  1. Google yourself.
  2. Set up Google Alerts to notify you when specific things, like your name, is mentioned.
  3. If you have work history online, make sure the information is correct and up-to-date.
  4. Never misrepresent yourself.
  5. Watch what you post – especially if you’re under a non-disclosure agreement or restrictive covenant.

Here are some legal tidbits on social media matters:

According to the article, Philadephia Bar Association Professional Guidance Committee Opinion No. 2009-02 and New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics Opinion No. 843 have opined that a lawyer may not “friend” a party or direct someone to “friend” a party to secure information about that party for use in a suit. Doing so would involve deceit or misrepresentation and violate the lawyer’s ethical obligations. Also, there has been no official opinion published on deceptive “friending” in Texas, however, it would be “afoul” of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

Ron Kramer is a Utah personal injury and accident lawyer practicing throughout the state. Call the Kramer Law Group today at 801-601-1229 for a free consultation.

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