Witnesses and Social Media: A Potentially Damaging Combination

March 25, 2019 5:41 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

If attorneys had their way, their clients and witnesses would never use social media of any kind—it would make their jobs significantly easier. However, the reality is that Facebook has nearly 2 billion active users, and Twitter processes nearly 340 million tweets per day. What is particularly dangerous about social media postings is that they are much more permanent than a phone call or a comment made in person, and can easily be made public.

Anyone involved in ongoing legal matters, including witnesses, must be careful about what they post on their social media platforms, as any information they share could be used against them in their court cases. Whether you’re testifying in person or during a video deposition in Phoenix, AZ, your social media posts are fair game!

For witnesses who do not intend to deactivate or stop using their accounts, here are some general rules they should follow when using social media:

  • Never share anything that could somehow be incriminating: This may be a problem for people who are chronic over-sharers on social media. You can expect that if you’re involved in a legal dispute, the opposing legal team will be scouring your profiles to find anything that could make you look bad or incriminate you in any way to discredit any evidence you provide. Therefore, you should always think twice before pressing “post,” and consider whether what you’re about to share could come back to hurt you in any way.
  • Do not accept requests from people you don’t know: It’s a good idea to tighten your privacy settings on your social media channels so your information and posts aren’t just out there for anyone to see. You should also be careful about accepting friend requests or follow requests from people you don’t personally know. These could easily be people who are just trying to get information to use in a case against you.
  • Know that even innocuous posts can be damaging: You might not think that checking into your favorite store or restaurant can be incriminating in any way, but if it eventually is inconsistent with an alibi you’ve provided or evidence you’ve spoken about, it could be used as a sign that you were dishonest with the court about where you actually were at a specific time.
  • Be careful of intimidation or harassment: As more of our communication continues to shift to the digital realm, there are plenty of both positive and negative effects of these digital communications to consider. There is a long history of witness intimidation or harassment in the world of law, and in the past this would occur either in person, through the mail or through phone calls. Today, social media is just one more platform people can use to bully, threaten or intimidate you to scare you out of providing crucial evidence in a case.

For more information about best practices to use on social media if you’re involved as a witness or participant in any type of legal matter, we encourage you to contact Bartelt | Nix Reporting, LLC. We’d be glad to discuss services such as video deposition in Phoenix, AZ with you soon!

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