There was a time when anonymity and privacy were the norms on the Internet. That time has passed.  Recent trends in social media are minimizing anonymous postings and encouraging people to share details about their daily lives. With the advent of MySpace, Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook; more and more individuals are postings, sharing and tweeting about themselves.  Your identity is now your brand in social marketing.

This growing trend does have  significant “real world implications” particularly in litigation.  Any tweet, post or update is fair game and can be detrimental to your legal well-being. There is no “Facebook Privilege” that can be invoked to protect a damaging update.

A recent well-written article in the Green Bay Press Gazette, lists several suggestions to follow to avoid damaging your lawsuit. The article can be found here. http://bit.ly/9ifuRB

The most important thing to remember when using social media during litigation is to avoid doing any harm to your case. This includes repeating what your attorney’s tell you online, and posting photos or status updates that will cause your credibility at trial to be questioned.

Everything you and your attorney discuss is protected by Attorney Client Privilege and cannot be used against you in your case. However, that privilege is blown when you post anything about a conversation online.

It is now a common practice for prosecutors to review social media sites for damning evidence. It is also a common practice for defense attorney’s to tell you to take such sites down until litigation is over.

Nothing can damage your credibility with the Judge in your DUI case than drunken photos posted on Facebook days after your arrest. No more “I have learned my lesson” pleas for you.

In fact, I know of several prosecutors who have found drunken photo’s of DUI defendants posted on Facebook days after their DUI arrest. These prosecutors waited for the “I have learned my lesson” plea from the Defendant and presented the damaging photos to the Court. Each time the Judge did not believe the Defendant (based on the photographs) and imposed a far more severe penalty than would have occurred but for the Facebook pics.

Likewise your personal injury case can implode from a simple tweet of “going rock climbing with Bill this weekend.”

Lastly, make sure you have reviewed your privacy settings on all social media sites to verify you have adequate settings in place. Do this regularly as Facebook has a history of changing privacy settings with little advance warning. Comments from friends and acquaintances can be just as damaging to your lawsuit as anything you post yourself.

With a little preparation and knowledge of how social media can impact your legal fortunes, you can avoid these online pitfalls.

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