Social media is a leading force in many people’s lives. It’s where many keep up with the news, talk with loved ones, and reconnect with others, especially during these past months of social distance.
However, despite the benefits social media has to offer, it also has some negative aspects, not least of which is lack of privacy.
This point has been proved in data breaches leaking user information and other large-scale disasters. But its lack of privacy can also affect individuals in circumstances such as court cases.
For example, if you are a victim of personal injury, social media may not be on your side in winning the case.
Can Social Media Be Used as Evidence in a Court Case?
It is entirely legal for social media to be used as evidence in court. However, just like any form of proof, it must be authenticated and admitted according to the Rules of Evidence. There have been numerous cases in which insurance companies have used photos, status updates, tweets, and even public conversations to expose the lack of integrity of a claimant.
In the past, insurance companies had to depend on private investigators and other covert ways to gain vital information. But today, it’s much easier—a quick internet search can reveal personal data and link directly to your social media accounts.
Social media offers a hugely beneficial vantage point for defendants since information about a plaintiff can be easily accessed. And, in contrast to exposing dishonestly, information found on social media can be easily misconstrued and used against you in ways that may not be fair.
It could even alter the trajectory that the case takes. For example, a video posted on social media after an accident that shows the victim swimming or dancing can compromise the legitimacy of a personal injury claim.
Of course, this can be very problematic in a personal injury case and could be viewed as a clear visual inconsistency with what you are verbally claiming. If you are able to participate in physical activities despite your injury, it’s important to be honest with your attorney and make it known that these are possible to enjoy, even while in pain. Even so, a defendant could use such evidence to argue that your injury is not as severe or limiting as you claim it is.
One Real-Life Example of Social Media Used in Court
One real-life example is the 2011 personal injury lawsuit Largent v. Reed, where the plaintiff claimed that a recent accident had caused her serious physical and mental injury. During the course of the litigation, the defendants discovered post-accident statuses published on Facebook that contradicted the argument of the claimant, including photos of the claimant enjoying time with her family and a status update discussing a visit to the gym. The defendant used this information to argue that the plaintiff’s injuries were not as severe as she claimed.
What to Keep in Mind During a Personal Injury Case
The most important action you can take concerning your social media during a personal injury case is to keep your account settings private. But even with your account set to private, you should avoid discussing your case, injuries, and treatment online while your case is open. You should also avoid posting anything to social media showing or discussing physical activity, as it could be misconstrued and used against you.
Speak with your personal injury attorney for more tips on keeping social media from negatively affecting your case.