Can Your “Private” Facebook Page Be Used Against You In Court?
The latest tactic used by defense lawyers is to infiltrate the private areas of Facebook for photos, comments, status updates and other tidbits that might contradict claims by plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits. I previously wrote a blog explaining that Florida court’s have always allowed public content posted on Facebook or any other internet site to be used in court. Recently, however, Judges have been granting access to “private” information on social networking sites.
Defense lawyers are using broad authorizations signed by plaintiffs that grant access to private information, usually used to obtain medical records and bills, to obtain prints of private screens on Facebook.
To make sure your Personal Injury case is not undermined by something found on Facebook, some personal injury attorneys recommend suspending your account until your case is concluded. Although doing so is the safest practice, this does not seem to be realistic advice for some people. If you’re not willing to suspend your account then at least you should guard what you post on Facebook as well as what your friends post about you on Facebook to insure that nothing could be misinterpreted as contradicting the claims you make about your injury. For example, photographs of you out at a social event might be misconstrued by a defense lawyer to suggest that your injury is not that bad. Even Smiley faces at the end of status updates can be taken out of context and used against you in front of a jury, as described by Reuters in the January 27 th article about the suddenly less private Facebook.
If such things are posted you might consider removing them immediately. However, you should know that there may be ways of finding information that has been deleted. Contact one of our lawyers to learn more about social media implications in court.