Social Media and Legal Evidence: Protecting Yourself from Your Own Statements

Odds are you have a Facebook page, or you’ve been asked ad nauseam why you don’t. Social media — in particular, sites such as Facebook and Twitter — are exploding across the Web, not just for personal use but increasingly for professional and business purposes.

If you’re not careful, they could be used for legal purposes as well.

In a July 2010 article in The Vancouver Sun entitled, “Facebook 101: How to lose badly in divorce court,” 66 percent of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported Facebook as the “unrivalled leader for online divorce evidence.” Citing examples of people in divorce and custody disputes whose fates were changed thanks to evidence gathered from Facebook, the article warns social media users to be aware that what they post online is not private — even with the tightest of security settings.

With the culture that is forming around websites like Facebook and Twitter, social media is becoming difficult to avoid. While there are certainly rewards associated with social media — both personal and, increasingly, professional — there are risks as well. Failing to be aware of what you are posting online could tarnish your reputation — which is the last thing you want when dealing with a messy divorce.

So what are the risk factors and what should you avoid?

There are some things you should avoid posting online under any circumstances. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Evidence of illegal activity
  • False statements
  • Aggressive comments or intolerant remarks

Keep in mind that particularly when it comes to divorce and/or custody disputes, any of these could be used against you to demonstrate an inconsistency in your statements or to marginalize your position in the case.

You should also be aware of any potential predispositions to sharing information online. One study from First Monday suggested women are more likely to make more personal comments about themselves, their friends, and their families online.

Be aware not only of what you say about yourself, but about what you post about others on social media websites. While certain comments may seem harmless enough, even a remark as innocent as your average time spent on World of Warcraft has the potential to cost you your child custody case.

Being aware of and careful of your statements and circumstances can help you to protect yourself online.

One thought on “Social Media and Legal Evidence: Protecting Yourself from Your Own Statements

  1. I think in general people underestimate the power of social media and it's effect on their legal situation. Not only in divorce cases (great article by the way), but also how their comments could land them in deep water with their employment situation, defamation law and even intellectual property. They're big stakes: get informed people.

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