Imagine standing in a courtroom where you are minutes away from winning a personal injury case. You are representing a client who has personal injury due to a road traffic incident. Just as you think the case is yours, the opposition pulls out a Snapchat at the time of the incident that shows your client taking a “selfie” as opposed to focusing on the road.
The likes of Twitter or Snapchat have become a blessing and a curse. Social media makes it easier to spread ideas and stay in contact, without much effort. But it can also be detrimental to one’s personal life. Especially in law.
Due to social media, outsiders can find out information about you that not even your close ones know about. Even something as personal as your location can be found due to “geotags” on Instagram or “check-ins” on Facebook. Many of these strangers use the information you post on your social networks to collect data they can use to scam or take advantage of you. As a lawyer, one begins to worry about their client’s personal information available on social media, especially during the process of opening a case.
So, how should your client use social media while you process their case? Well, they shouldn’t. But because society feels the need to be constantly connected, it has become almost impossible to avoid social media altogether.
As such, here are five ways you can get your client to keep their personal business on the low during the fragile time of processing a case.
Ask your client to keep their location impossible to locate
The information released on a personal network such as Facebook and Linked-in can be easily hidden or made private. However, now that we have GPS-enabled cellular devices, location networks –systems that make it easy to share your location – have become increasingly more popular. It would be advised to stay away from these kinds of networks during a case. A second party is probably closely watching your client, and location information can hurt the chances of a win for you and your client.
An app such as Snapchat should be avoided. Even though one’s pictures are only supposed to last a couple of seconds, anyone with an iPhone can take a “snapshot.” Additionally, there are now applications that allow you to secretly save Snapchats without the users’ permission.
Talk to your client about making their social media platforms private
Snapchat, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter … Myspace (still). It’s hard to keep up with what is being shared on all these platforms. It’s best to make all your social media private. That way, nobody new can find access to your client’s accounts without requesting to follow your client first.
Ask your client to ignore any e-mails that could be phishing attacks
Phishing attacks are any kind of emails that ask for any personal information and claim to be from a trusted source, such as a bank. Usually they are accompanied by a link. These links could be run by a hacker who, in a matter of minutes, can have complete control of a client’s e-mail accounts – which may hold important legal information pertaining to a legal case.
Be careful of what kind of photographs your client has tagged of themselves
Perhaps, your client has come to you with a case that involves underage drinking. It might be much harder to represent them for an incident that occurred once – when they have multiple photographs tagged of themselves with cans of beer in their hands.
Remind your client that anything shared can be used against them
Now that you have gone over the importance of making sure clients don’t share information about themselves, it may be harder to ask your client to stay away from sharing other people’s lives as well. Facebook has become a playground for persons to share controversial videos and posts. The problem with sharing other people’s videos is that one immediately becomes associated with the content within the videos. The best way to make sure your client doesn’t run into any association issues is by notifying them about what they should post.
While these instructions may seem a bit stringent, it is important to cover all social media bases, during a case review. Unfortunately, anything can be used against your client. And the opposition may manipulate any shared information – whether it is created by or correlated to your client.