For seasoned lawyers who have been practicing for years, social media isn’t necessarily second nature. In fact, some don’t know the difference between tagging and tweeting.
However, Pew Research estimates that 65 percent of adults log into social media every day. Therefore, like it or not, New Jersey lawyers need to understand the basics of sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn simply to represent their clients effectively.
First, social media posts and pictures are increasingly being requested as part of the discovery process. Information gleaned from Facebook, Twitter, and other similar sites has the power to influence criminal matters, employment lawsuits, insurance claims/personal injury, family law and even general business litigation. Last month, a Georgia woman’s damage award in a car accident lawsuit was cut in half, in large part due to Twitter posts appearing to show that she was enjoying a full life after the crash. However, social media information is of no use to lawyers unless they understand how to collect, preserve, and authenticate it.
Second, social media can be a substantive legal issue. The number of cases involving sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn has climbed in the past several years. For example, a California federal court was asked to consider whether Twitter followers could be classified as proprietary business information. Similarly, a Pennsylvania court was asked to determine what should happen to an employee’s LinkedIn account when he or she leaves the company. The actual social media companies have also become the subject of lawsuits, with several class-action lawsuits challenging their privacy policies and data collection procedures.
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