Social media, broadly defined, is having a powerful impact in the U.S. legal environment. Additionally, as social media crosses national boundaries, global legal concerns, not addressed in this brief comment, must be considered in practice. The following limited and incomplete points illustrate how one must exercise care in the social media legal world. Most individuals understand that what is communicated in the public domain is subject to research. Simultaneously, unthinking actions contradict this knowledge. There is no traditional “reasonable expectation of privacy” in publicly available information. Also, one must always assume that speech and actions are “on the record.” However, as is well known, social media information may be inaccurate and should never be blindly taken at face value.
In the interest of brevity, the following commentary only provides a minimal number of legal citations. In all areas, consult an experienced attorney.
Legal Risks in “Cleaning-Up” Social Media Profiles
The major legal issue, when litigation is anticipated or is occurring, involves the potential destruction of evidence. Altering privacy settings, deactivating accounts, and deleting content could all fall under unlawful destruction of evidence. This has both civil and criminal implications. “Spoilation of evidence” is the traditional legal phrase utilized in civil lawsuits. Bar Associations are developing ethical standards for attorneys to follow in advising clients concerning their existing social media content.
Introducing Social Media Information into Trial Evidence
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