In a blog post last year, we discussed how social media such as Facebook and Twitter might impact your divorce. Social media can affect any kind of case that you are involved in, however, so if you are involved or may become involved in litigation of any kind, you should give careful consideration to your social media usage.
Increasingly, social media posts are being used in various types of court cases to illustrate a point by the opposing side, or to dispute claims made by a litigant.
In civil cases, if the defendant or claimant is regularly using Facebook, there may be evidence on Facebook of various relationships or activities the person is engaging in, which may help to illustrate things that contradict some of their claims in the case. Also, a litigant may post information or an opinion that antagonizes the opposing party, or speaks badly of them and that makes settlement discussions difficult.
In injury and workers compensation cases, Facebook posts might illustrate that an injured person can actually engage in activities they claim they can no longer do. Pictures of a person water-skiing when they have claimed severe debilitating injuries may leave the litigant with some serious explaining to do.
Increasingly, in Social Security disability hearings the Administrative Law Judge may ask a claimant if they post on Facebook or have a Facebook page. The Judge may even look at the claimant’s page to see if they have posted information about activities that might be contrary to their claim of disability. In a recent case, I am dealing with a claimant whose excessive blogging and surfing indicated to their mental health provider that they had serious issues with compulsive behavior, attention and concentration, but which simply meant to the Judge that the person could spend many hours on the computer and could maybe do that at work. So sometimes it may be a matter of perception, but the fact that the information is out there on the internet may put you in the tough position of having to explain away something.
Please remember that posting anything at all on the internet is like putting something on a billboard. It is very public, even if you are only sharing it with your Facebook “friends.” While I cannot tell you to delete things you have already posted, I do strongly suggest that if you are involved in a case of any kind you refrain from posting until the case is over. Even things you think are innocuous and don’t mean anything, might have meaning to the Judge or the other side in your court case. Once posted, it is out there and you won’t be able to take it back.