How attorneys can use social media against you

For many of us using social networking sites have become second nature and we rarely think twice about what we share.  Consider these facts by the Pew Research Center:

  • 74% of all internet users are active on social media (compared to 8%    in 2005)
  • Younger uses (18-29 years old) have an 89% usage rate
  • 71% of online adults use Facebook (approximately 1.15 billion users)
  • 23% of Facebook users login at least 5 times per day
  • 17% of online adults use Instagram
  • Americans spend approximately 16 minutes per hour of internet usage engaged in social media sites
  • Adult Facebook users have an average of 338 friends in their network
  • Almost 60% of adult users are creators or curators of content on social media sites

With this staggering usage, users often feel a level of anonymity that allows them to share information that they may otherwise not.  As one might imagine, insurance companies, defense attorneys, and opposing parties have turned to this treasure trove of information to try to diminish or destroy a victim’s case in the court system. 

The problem with social media is it often portrays an inaccurate picture of a user. 

As a society we are quick to post our “best side” to social media sites, pictures with smiles, engaging in activities, enjoying friends and family, and posts that share optimism and vibrancy.  With these posts often come the innocent comments from people in our network reinforcing how fun the activity was and how the individual needs to do the activity again.

The danger of social media in a personal injury case

The problem is that the posts that show our “best side” don’t necessary show our true self.  In a personal injury matter, an injured person may not want to post pictures of being in pain or posts with complaints due to the perception of being a “whiner.”

After all, who isn’t going to smile for a picture despite pain? More often than not, the injured person "plays through the pain" in an effort to put their very best side forward in the social world. 

Social media dangers during a divorce case

Likewise, in a divorce, an innocent activity may be taken out of context to diminish a party’s parenting abilities. Therefore, social networks sometimes only show one, potentially wholly inaccurate, side to the poster.

Knowing that insurance companies, defense attorneys, and opposing parties will try to take these snippets and paint an inaccurate picture, there are measures that one can take to try to minimize the possible negative effects of social media to their case. 

Review the sections below for what we recommend.      

This general information is provided by Helland Law Group located in Tacoma, Washington and serving all Pierce County and Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Federal Way, Auburn, Puyallup, Kent, University Place, and Lakewood.  Our office represents individuals in family law matters including divorce, child custody, and child support proceedings.  Contact our at (253) 572-2684 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.