Facebook and the Law

As social networking sites, such as Facebook, become a commonplace in our interactions between one another, their effect on judicial proceedings become increasingly prevalent. Over 500 million people worldwide login to Facebook each day with a misguided feeling of privacy. Facebook provides an avenue for attorneys to dive into a litigant’s personal life and state of mind.

Facebook has had an effect on cases in all areas of the law. Family law attorneys have utilized pictures and posts from a parent to show a trip with a child to Disney World while the parent was restrained from taking the child out of the state. One family law attorney asserts that Facebook plays a role in at least 20% of cases. This is due to the site’s ability to allow one to draw inferences concerning a user’s behavior, activity, and attitude.

Personal injury cases have also been affected by Facebook. A Seattle man involved in an accident filed suit against the driver who caused the accident claiming serious neck and back injury that would require extensive medical treatment. The defendant’s insurer hired a tech savvy lawyer who was able to gather, via Facebook, videos and pictures of the plaintiff snowboarding after the accident. Needless to say, the settlement offer was adjusted in light of the discovery.

It is essential for Facebook users, especially those involved in litigation, to gain an understanding of the ramifications involved with their activity on the site. Although Facebook allows you the option of having a “private profile,” information posted under these settings can still become public, as Facebook’s privacy policy affirmatively states. As a precautionary measure, it is important for users to be cognizant of the potential consequences of their posts, and to maintain a level of professionalism in their Facebook interactions.

For more information, contact Attorney Mike Fontaine