Social networking websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn, provide a unique forum for us to connect and share information with others. As the use of such social media has gained in popularity, lawyers, opposing parties, and investigators have learned that these websites provide a trove of personal and professional information that can be used as evidence, or facilitate further investigation and discovery, in legal proceedings.
The following tips can help you avoid some common social media pitfalls that may be damaging to your case from a legal perspective:
1. Do not discuss any aspect of your legal case on any online forum, particularly any legal strategies or advice from your attorney. You should also avoid backbiting and venting about your estranged spouse or the opposing party.
2. Do not divulge any financial information. This includes refraining from discussing your salary, bonuses, expenditures, and purchases. Even photos showing you taking a special vacation could be harmful to your case if you are claiming that you have no money to pay spousal support or child support.
3. Be aware of any contradictions in resumes or professional information that may be available online as opposed to information that you are representing to the court or opposing party as to your job experience and qualifications.
4. Be aware of photographs and postings that your friends and family make online to ensure that they are not divulging information that could be harmful to your case.
5. Take advantage of privacy settings and filters when posting information. A common friend or someone you think is an ally could share your posts with the opposing party.
6. Make sure that your passwords are secure and no one else has access to your accounts. If you have just separated from your spouse or partner, you should change your passwords for good measure.
If you are going through a divorce, child custody dispute, or other type of legal proceeding, you should use discretion and good judgment in anything you post or share online. As a general rule, assume that anything you post online is subject to public review. However, the best policy is to avoid using social networking websites altogether while your legal action is pending. Sometimes seemingly innocent posts can have unexpected consequence.
This article is for information purposes only and is not to be considered or substituted as legal advice. The information in this article is based on North Carolina state laws in effect at the time of posting.