Social media has become an integral part of your daily life. You use social media to connect with friends, share experiences and express your thoughts. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, users share approximately 684,478 pieces of content every minute. However, it is essential to recognize that what goes on on social media can have significant consequences, even in unexpected areas like the legal system.
In Indiana, your social media activity can influence the outcome of your court case, but not always positively.
First and foremost, you must understand that anything you post on social media is, by default, public information. Even if your privacy settings are set, people can still see, screenshot or access it through other means. Therefore, never assume that your posts are entirely private.
Evidence in court
Social media posts are helpful as evidence in court proceedings. If your posts contain information relevant to your case, opposing counsel may use them to support their argument or discredit your claims. For example, a personal injury claimant who posts pictures of themselves engaging in physically demanding activities after an accident may undermine their case. In criminal law, any suspicious activity posted on social media can and will find its way to the prosecutor.
Character and credibility
Judges and juries often consider a person’s character and credibility when assessing the merits of a case. Inconsistent or contradictory information on social media can cast doubt on your trustworthiness. A criminal case, for instance, will suffer if you post things that make you seem guilty.
Subpoena and discovery
Opposing parties can request access to your social media content through a subpoena or the discovery process. This means that even if you delete or privatize your posts, the opposing counsel can still get and use your posts against you in court. Deleting posts after litigation has begun can also lead to accusations of destruction of evidence.
Social media investigations
Investigators are increasingly turning to social media as a source of information. They may monitor your profiles, connections and interactions to gather evidence against you.
To mitigate the risk associated with social media, you should be cautious about what you post during a pending court case. Avoid discussing the details of your case, and refrain from making any statements that could have an adverse legal context. Review your privacy settings and limit your social media activity until your case ends.
Remember, in the digital age, your online actions can have real-world consequences in a courtroom.