Sitting in the comfort of your home posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram, commenting on Twitter, and sharing thoughts on Tumblr, MySpace or Reddit. You may feel like your messages are private. But don't be fooled by the solitude of your home or by privacy settings on websites. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, you post on the Internet is private, and, as a motion in a Long Island court case Romano v Steelcase shows, anything and everything can be used against you in court. In this particular case, the defendant claimed she was so severely injured when her chair collapsed that she was limited in her activities and that the accident damaged her "enjoyment of life." But material she posted on her public MySpace and Facebook pages appeared to contradict her claims by showing her on family trips and smiling happily outside her home in various locations. She apparently did not believe the chair company would find her postings.
The judge ordered Romano to authorize MySpace and Facebook to turn over all their historical records of her pages--including nonpublic portions and those she might have deleted. I will repeat that last part--even those she deleted. Because believe it or not, nothing is ever really deleted in the World Wide Web. Once you put something out there, it's always somewhere and someone can find it when you may not want them to.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
- Post only thing you don't mind everybody and anybody seeing. You never know who will repost it and who will have access to see it. That topless picture sent to a boyfriend may prove your boob job really wasn't all that botched.
- Don't post jokes or photoshopped pictures that can be misinterpreted or taken seriously.
- If you are involved in a case, be truthful with your lawyer and don't post anything that contradicts what you have told him. We recently had a potential client claim very serious back injuries, yet his Facebook postings showed him benchpressing large weights.
- Don't post anything that can cause misinterpretations about your character or your actions. For example, one of our clients had posted a picture on MySpace shooting a toy machine gun.
- Most importantly, be smart and use common sense. The Internet is a powerful tool but it can cause as much damage as good.
At Goldstein and Bashner, we know how important the Internet has become in finding evidence, and we work with our clients to ensure they understand that everything they post can one day find itself used as courtroom evidence. If you have any questions or need a lawyer you can talk to, please contact our Long Island personal injury attorneys today.
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