How Posting on Facebook Can Affect Your Case

by ShelbyW on April 25, 2013

Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites in the world, and this has led to unforeseen legal consequences for many users. For example, there have been several recent cases that have used information that was posted on the defendant’s Facebook wall to help prove their guilt. Additionally, there have been several employers who have used the content of an employee’s wall to terminate them. In order to protect yourself from these issues, you need to be extremely careful about the information that you share on Facebook and other social networking sites.

What about Privacy Settings?

Most people assume that their privacy settings can protect them from the prying eyes of the law, but this is not correct. In fact, Facebook’s privacy policy enables them to share your personal information at any time if a law enforcement officer provides the site with a search warrant. In some cases, Facebook’s representatives might even have the legal right to share information without a warrant. Therefore, it is imperative that you never post anything on Facebook unless it would be safe for everyone to view it.

Are My Messages Safe?

There is nothing that you post or share on Facebook that cannot be accessed by a law enforcement officer. In other words, if a prosecutor is building a case against you, they could subpoena Facebook for access to your wall, your messages and even records pertaining to everything you have ever posted on another person’s wall. Again, your best course of action is to simply avoid saying anything on Facebook that could potentially cause you legal issues at any point in your life.

How does this Impact Civil Cases?

Although criminal cases are likely to utilize the exception clause in Facebook’s privacy policy more often, you could also be held liable for your posts during a civil case. For example, if you have filed a personal injury claim and they are investigating the case, their attorney could go through your Facebook posts to see if there is any evidence they could use against you.

A respected Charleston personal injury attorney who spent the first portion of his career working for the insurance companies, states on his website that he knows “the tactics that insurance companies use to minimize the value of injured people’s claims.” Investigators have been known to go so far as to create fake profiles to view updates. If you or one of your friends has posted a picture of you at a club recently, even if you were just posing for a picture near the dance floor, it might appear that you were out dancing and could make it more difficult to prove your injuries.

What if I Delete the Post?

According to Facebook’s terms of service, they have the legal right to retain copies of everything that you delete for at least 90 days. Because of this, it is easy for officials to gain access to incriminating posts that you thought were gone forever after you clicked the delete button. There is also no way of knowing for sure if your deleted information will actually be purged at the 90 day mark. Therefore, you will not necessarily be in the clear if an attorney gets a subpoena 100 days after you deleted a post.

When it comes to Facebook and any other social networking site, it is best to make generic posts that cannot possibly affect a civil or criminal case. If you do find yourself in a bad situation due to your Facebook posts, you should contact your attorney immediately.

Legal Researcher Shelby Warden writes articles to raise awareness of new legal issues. Since the end of the last century, the Charleston personal injury attorney firm of Howell and Christmas has been fighting for the rights of victims. Their attorneys are ready to go to court to fight for their clients to recover all of the compensation they deserve for their injuries.

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