Individuals involved in the litigation process – whether they are merely filing a claim with an insurance company or have filed a lawsuit headed for trial – must be mindful of the dangers inherent in posting information about themselves or their cases in social media. Although Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media can be helpful in terms of reconnecting with old friends and keeping current family and friends with our up-to-date activities, those media sites are no place for any postings concerning issues or information regarding ones lawsuit or claim. Even seemingly innocent information about how one feels during various periods of time can be misconstrued and used to defeat otherwise valid causes of action.
This concern is not unique to litigants. Judges who utilize social media must follow the American Bar Association model of judicial conduct. Judges must avoid contacts which would jeopardize their independence, impartiality or integrity or even create an appearance of impropriety. Judges must be mindful that their comments images and/or profile information – however innocent -may be transmitted to others without their knowledge. According to the February 21 opinion of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, if such material proves embarrassing or can be misconstrued in a negative light, it has the potential to undermine public confidence in the judiciary and compromise a judge’s independence.
Such advice is no different than the advice that students receive who are intending to apply to colleges or applying for jobs and are warned not to put anything out on social media which they would not want a potential college admissions recruiter or potential employer to see. This is sound advice. Whether you are involved in a lawsuit or even just a claim, it is important keep in mind the admonition of the Miranda warnings Anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law. Defense attorneys and their insurance adjusters will search social media outlets to see whether you posted anything they can use to defeat your claim. Similar to the World War II adage, “Loose lips, sink ships,” a social media post can inadvertently hurt the most.