By Inna G. Materese | Esquire
The vast majority of us live double lives. We live one life on the internet and another IRL (“In Real Life”). For better or for worse, a "public life" via social media has become a way of life for many of us. We post maps of our morning run route, photos of our latest travels, videos of our children's latest antics, or share political articles. Our friends share articles and opinions on LinkedIn. Our favorite boutique posts event information on Facebook. Our favorite celebrities showcase themselves on Snapchat. Our presidential candidates tweet at us…and each other. Even seemingly private individuals become semi-celebrities when their online disclosures go viral (Remember the mom who posted a photo of herself breastfeeding her child in public or the teacher who Instagram-ed a snapshot of her letter telling the parents of her students there will be no homework this year?).
The need to post, re-post, share, and/or comment on Facebook and other social media platforms has become so commonplace and interwoven into our daily routines that many times we fail to recognize that these public displays are, well, public. However, the information we curate about ourselves online is not just posted in the privacy of our own accounts. Once information is posted, shared, or commented upon (even deleted!), it lives on in perpetuity for others to scrutinize...even the judge in your legal matter.
In this age of endless sharing and compromised privacy, our clients are often caught off guard when their online personas rear their heads as evidence in the courtroom. It's important to remember that your online actions can (and will!) be used against you as evidence. In fact, so long as the information can be authenticated as original and un-manipulated, the court will consider your online posts. If entered into evidence, your social media accounts may have a substantial impact on your legal case.
When it comes to posting personal information for the world to see during your pending legal case, the best practice is to exercise restraint. The second best practice? Speak to your attorney about your social media accounts to determine whether they might have an impact on your legal matter.