In an ever changing and complex world, social media has altered the way many people communicate and spread their message to others. We have all seen the obligatory selfie with friends, picture of what’s for lunch today, and hashtag bonanza. While social media is extremely popular and in many ways beneficial, it may create legal headaches for attorneys and clients alike.
As a general rule, what a client tells their attorney is confidential (with certain exceptions). However, a client can unknowingly and accidentally waive this confidentiality. If a client posts or tweets information that was told to their attorney, the confidentiality of that information is now lost. It is now out there for anyone to read, including opposing counsel. On the flip side, an attorney who discloses information on the same social media may face harsh sanctions for this unethical action. The best advice is to keep the information off all forms of social media to protect its confidentiality.
Even information that is not necessarily confidential, may create headaches for litigation if posted on social media. Unless you have certain privacy settings that block unwanted information from being sent around the globe, what you post on social media may be used against you. For Workers’ Compensation purposes, employers have gotten smart and know to browse Facebook and other applications looking for incriminating statements or pictures. Much like a football team does not want to disclose their playbook to the opposing team, if information is released online, the opposing party may use that to their advantage. Even if it was meant as a joke, it can be very difficult to discern the intent and tone of writings and pictures on social media. The safe bet: if you want something kept private, do not post it online for all to see.
—Attorney Andrew C. Mikulecky