I’m constantly amazed by things people disclose and do on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and in other social networks. Apparently, lawyers have noticed how free people are with videos, photos, and stories about themselves, including their sexual orientation, date of birth, and more. And now those personal thoughts are coming back to bite people where it hurts – in court.
An article by Philip K Anthony and Christine Martin in National Law Journal demonstrates that lawyers are way ahead of corporations in tapping into the power of social media.
“Litigators,” they note, “now have unprecedented access to the conversations, attitudes and opinions of millions of Americans. …Many people, the authors say, “have traded personal privacy for greater access to information and individually tailored news feeds.”
Social media: a goldmine of personal information
Today’s technology makes social sites a goldmine of information for marketing companies, political interest groups, potential employers, or lawyers.
As he Privacy Commission of Canda’s blog has noted, “New and exciting technologies are emerging daily; but often your personal information is the cost of admission.” But fewer people seem worried about publicly sharing the intimate details of their lives.
The Law Journal article is a good overview of social media by two trial lawyers.
“The value of this information is not only for marketers,” they write. New online communities provide early insight into prevailing attitudes, values and beliefs.”
“Monitoring the social media is essential if one wishes to identify the presence of organized groups, the issues important to them and the amount of influence they may be having on public opinion.”
They offer cautionary tales that people would be wise to heed “before getting carried away with the utopian optimism of the new social media.” They then give examples of people who incriminated themselves in court via photos, jokes, videos, etc. on Facebook, YouTube and other social networks.
Attorneys, they point out, have even posted depositions on YouTube in effort to influence public opinion.
Remember, everything you say in social networks can come back to haunt you. Online, everything is forever.
Posted by B.L. Ochman
– Think You Have Any Privacy Online? Think Again
– Beware the Stealth Interview
– Privacy Commission of Canada Blog: Top 10 Ways Your Privacy is Threatened