Whymighta social networking site such as Facebookbe bad formy case?

Many of our clients have a social networking site with FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn.  While the social networking sites are great for keeping up-to-date with friends and family, there are serious pitfalls.

There are two potential problems with such social networking sites. Problem #1: At trial, the jurors are instructed by the Judge that they should not discuss the case with family members and friends.  Some follow this instruction and some don't. However, it is very common for jurors to check FaceBook or MySpace to "dig up the dirt" on the plaintiff to find out the inside scoop on who they really are. In one case, we discovered that our client had explicit photographs on her FaceBook page that, to say the least, did not portray her in a positive light, i.e., the client was pointing a gun at someone (albeit as a joke).  We immediately advised our client to remove the photographs from her FaceBook page and catastrophe was averted.  Had a juror seen the compromising photographs of our client, the outlook for a positive verdict from the jury would have changed in an instant.

Problem #2: As they prepare for deposition and trial, defense attorneys often comb social networking sites for damaging information about our clients. The damaging information may come in the form of photographs or videotape on FaceBook, or written content by our client or our client's friends about her lifestyle, i.e., getting drunk at the local pub into the early hours of the morning.  Defense lawyers are experts at "digging up the dirt" and the social networking sites often have a plethora of damaging information for them to use.  The last thing that we want is a surprise at deposition or trial when confronted with new information from FaceBook that paints our client in a bad light.

The Answer:  We advise our clients to remove all of their content, whether written, photographs or video, from social networking sites that are available to the public.  Many of our clients assume that their information is not accessible to the public and we always check to make sure--often our clients are wrong!  Do your due diligence and make sure all of the information on the social networking sites is removed from access by the public.