In the new world of social media, the law doesn’t need to request you as a friend. Social media is discoverable and can be used as evidence in a court of law. Updating your privacy settings cannot keep the law out. In a recent survey, 52 percent of lawyers interviewed said they had seen a rise in cases involving information on social media platforms.
One of the largest social media decisions came out of a Virginia court in 2013. In the Virginia case, a husband was seeking damages for emotional distress, resulting from the death of his wife in a motor vehicle accident. However, the husband’s Facebook page displayed pictures of him at a party holding beers and wearing a shirt with the words ‘I [heart] hot moms’ and in the company of other young adults.” His attorney suggested that he “clean up” his Facebook page, which included deleting 16 pictures before deactivating the account. The court sanctioned the client and his counsel for “spoliation of social media evidence.”
Opponents of social media discovery contend that the information on a person’s social media should be considered private. The courts often disagree if the information contained on social media is relevant to the issues the court is facing.
If your social media is called into question, it is important for you and your counsel to ask whether or not the information is inherently relevant to the case. Does it actually relate to the case the other party is making against you? Regardless, before you hit delete, you need to consider the impact that might have on any legal case, including matters like divorce and custody.