I love Facebook and Myspace, but maybe not for the reasons you think. Yes I do have a facebook account and probably spend too much time reading about what is going on and checking out the photos, but the real reason I love them is because they provide great information for cross examination in lawsuits (and unfortunately sometimes against me). There is the old saying that don’t say anything you wouldn’t want written in the paper, now it should be don’t take, or be in a picture you don’t want to be brought up in a trial, job interview or just used to embarrass you. I have seen such things on profile as swinger, escort, weekend drunk, and photos that make for great exhibits in cases. I know you some of you are thinking whew, it is a good thing I have my privacy settings so only my “friends” can see that stuff. Well it might not be so secure. Maybe the picture of you drinking several beers on the weekend are in your friends pages or friends friends and they are not protected. It might it also be that one of your “friends” is not really a friend (or is also friends with the person you are against or interviewing with) and turns your information over. You get asked in a deposition or interview did you drink anything over the weekend, you answer no, but there is a picture of you with a beer in your hand surrounded by empty beer bottles. Again the solution is simple. First don’t put yourself in a bad position and second don’t lie about it.
OK Mr. and Ms. professional, I only put professional stuff on facebook, see above, you never know who took what pictures where you were in maybe without you even knowing about them. There is this thing called tagging, not sure what it is, but my daughters do and it gets you tracked down. Now the others Linkedin, etc. these are professional sites and surely can’t be a problem. Generally that is true as long as you follow the tell the truth. It is useful to find out the background on a person, who they worked for, how long and who they are linked to, but here is another useful piece of information. Say you as a lawyer are trying to determine who to depose at the other parties company in the lawsuit. You send discovery asking for the person with knowledge regarding the topic, they give you a name and/or produce someone OR you get on linkedin and do a search for that company and see who all is listed and what their job titles are. Sometimes they are pretty interesting such as risk assessment and management, operations security, safety training and enforcement. These people may know more and be more interesting to depose than the people they offer.
So the moral of this blog is don’t be stupid as it will show up somewhere sometime on social media and don’t lie about it if asked because you should assume if they (attorney, job interviewer) are asking the question they already know the answer. If your company is sued you should review your own employees social sites, including linkedin to see what they have listed as their jobs and descriptions of job. This may help you determine who may be deposed and help prepare them (and you) for questions. Finally never assume that just because you deleted it that it is gone. It seems like the worse the picture, statement, or information the more somebody wants to keep it around.
Brent… check this out: http://mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/
I have used in custody case, I represented young dad who got custody, young mother claimed she did not have phone for him to call on her on but on Facebook and Myspace she had text to people constantly to call her on her cell. She claimed she did not have transportation one weekend to meet to get child but had on her page all about her trip to Austin that weekend for a concert.
Great note. We now have it in our contracts that our clients have to take down their social networking sites. We don’t force them to, but we do use the clause as an opportunity to discuss just what you noted in your blog about how anything you say on your site is there for the whole world to see. Keep up the good work. Rob