Over the last decade, social media has become part of everyday life for many people. Facebook, for instance, has over 950 million users and approximately 500 million of them log on daily. Twitter has 465 million accounts with 175 million tweets a day. With these statistics to consider, how likely is it now that social media can impact your life from a job search to the outcome in a legal matter?
In recent years, social media has been used more and more as evidence in court cases, by employers for employment searches, and even as a tool for background checks. Many people do not consider the possible negative impact their posts can have. Some people eventually realize it and later try to delete the information. What they do not understand is that many things, once posted, are permanently out in the public domain and can be recovered, even after you have attempted to delete them.
In addition to the possible permanency of the posts, users should also be aware that their online presence gives the world a “first impression” of who they are, whether or not it is accurate.
- To assist our clients, here are a few guidelines to follow in using social media:
- Refrain from posting anything you would be uncomfortable discussing in front of a judge or future employer, or even your grandmother.
- Do not post or comment on any current legal cases you might be involved in. This is true whether you are a litigant, witness or juror. Just don’t post about it – you can get in a lot of trouble, including possible criminal charges.
- Do not post pictures or video reflecting your participation in any illegal activities.
- Refrain from posting anything derogatory about a person or company that can be used against you later. Heated moments can pass, but regrettable posts can last forever.
- Keep personal information off your profiles. Many identity thieves target users of social media websites to obtain personal identifying information.
- Remember that privacy settings should be checked frequently to make sure you aren’t inadvertently sharing private information with a public audience.