Are Your Facebook and Twitter Accounts Protected from Prying Eyes?
As use of social media has grown and grown, defense lawyers have begun demanding that injured plaintiffs disclose everything on their social media sites.
Our advice to everyone -- even before they become our clients -- is DON'T PUT ANYTHING ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER THAT YOU WOULD NOT WANT TO BE READ AND SEEN BY EVERYONE.
It is hard to explain to an injured client why she must turn over all that private information. Some courts are allowing it, others are not. So, there is no way to be sure which way a judge will decide when a client gets the demand for the information.
After we get such a demand for access to social media, we resist and make the defense justify its demand to a judge before we will turn over the information. Here is an order from Davids v. Novartis, in which a New York federal judge denied the defendant's access to the plaintiff's log-in information to all of her social networking websites so the defendant could "inspect all documents that relate to her claim." In this case, the judge said the defendant did not have enough information from which the court could infer that there was relevant information on the plaintiff's private page.
However, if a judge decides there IS enough information to suggest that an injured plaintiff has put relevant information on her private page, everything would have to be disclosed.
This is a hard lesson for young and old. We have learned that we have privacy rights, and we do. It's just that now it is easier than we have thought to give up those rights, especially when we put pictures and comments on social media websites.
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