The use of internet social networks (ISN) are very popular these days. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. are among the most popular ISNs. However, because they are so wide open to the rest of the world, there is not much privacy with the use of any ISN and having a personal profile on any one of these social sites can put you at risk for public invasion, spam, viruses, and identity theft. Anyone and everyone can obtain access to your personal information on your profile page and opposing parties in a personal injury claim are now using Facebook and other ISNs to obtain information about you.
How do ISNs potentially affect your case?
Now more than ever, opposing parties utilize ISNs to investigate the other party in a claim or lawsuit. They may perform Google searches or other pay-per-search to investigate a party to a claim, but now it is easy and free to get on an ISN such as Facebook to locate a person in a case, gain personal information about you, investigate who your friends are, what you post on your “wall” to the public or what you are saying to your friends or family, the type of activities you are involved in or other information about you that may potentially have harmful effects on your case. They can gain access to viewing all of your photographs you have posted or the photographs someone has posted of you. We already are aware that the creators of these ISNs use information about you and what you “like” for marketing and advertising. Essentially, your ISN profile may contain information about you that can work against you and harm your case.
While you are involved in a claim or lawsuit of any kind, the best solution would be to deactivate all of your profile accounts with any and all internet social sites. The second best solution is to set your privacy settings as high as possible. Go into your account’s privacy settings and make sure that the general public or even “friends of friends” cannot view anything about your profile such as your personal information, your likes, your activities, your photographs, or even the friends you have on your page. You should also set your account so that your name is not searchable on the site during the pendency of your claim. You should delete friends you do not know and not “accept” any friend you do not know. You should not have personal information on your profile, such as your address, email address, or phone number or work information.
While you are in a claim or lawsuit, refrain from posting on your wall, sending messages, or chatting online especially information about your claim. Any information you post, photographs you pin, or the messages you send are now discoverable to the opposing party. They can and will subpoena ISN records and potentially use any information on your profile against you in your claim.
Internet social networks are a fun way to share and stay in touch with family and friends. However, always be mindful of how globally accessible they are and what kind of information can be accessed about you and the use of that information by anyone. If you are opposed to closing your accounts on these sites, make sure personal information is not available on your profile and that your privacy settings are customized to the highest settings possible, and refrain from posting messages or photographs or even chatting on the site during your claim. Any information you post or send via an ISN can be used to discredit you and your claim.
Lastly, always let us know if you have a personal profile on any ISN. This will help us guide and direct you in the best interest of your claim.