Social networking on sites like Facebook has its advantages and one major disadvantage. While sharing in your friend’s lives can be rewarding, sharing your own life in its entirety on Facebook can put you at a great legal risk. It can be a significant problem when the commentary and photos you post are used against you in a court of law. In fact, many social media users are unaware that the Miranda Rights covers everything you say, or write, in which you are sharing it with a public official or on a public forum. Unlike hearsay, in which words you have purportedly spoken is repeated through a second source, the words and photos you post on Facebook have clearly been uploaded by you for a public audience, which largely limits your rights in objecting to its presentation in legal proceedings.
Facebook, a Legal Risk
There are many types of criminal and civil cases in which what you share on Facebook can negatively impact the outcome of a case, such as in harassment, violation of probation or parole, insurance fraud, divorce, and child custody. Therefore, here are 3 tips to consider before you post your next comment or photo:
- Do not post anything you wouldn’t want brought up in court.Just because you are not involved in legal proceedings at this moment in time does not mean that you won’t be in the future. Anything that you share with the public at any time in the past can be used against you, so exercise caution.
- Avoid creating posts when you are angry, upset or otherwise emotionally stressed. While the moment may pass for you, the words you post will be on your page for the long-term. Beware that even if you delete the post, it is possible that someone printed it out before you chose to remove it.
- Carefully choose what you share, like and on which you comment. If you continually like off-color photos or share angry rants posted by a coworker, it paints a picture of who you are as a person to someone that does not know you personally.
Remember, while you may think that what you’re writing or sharing doesn’t malign your character, it is ultimately up to the judge to interpret its bearing on your character, your motives and the overall case.