Social Media Tips in the Age of eDiscovery

by Kevin L. Nichols
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Privacy is one of the public’s biggest concerns when discussing eDiscovery and its place within the realm of social media. For one thing, many people feel that it still exists…it does not. More and more courts are determining that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy when individuals voluntarily post updates, thoughts, suggestions, recommendations, etc. out in “the cloud” of public domain. Various Tweets, status updates, “check-ins”, and the like have caused many problems for litigants from across the globe. Who here has read all of the terms and conditions of all of the social media sites that they belong to and still belong to them? I would argue that very few have. So what can we do as regular citizens to protect our inalienable rights of Freedom of Speech and expression? Here are some tips that may give you the impression that your social media activity is private but cannot guarantee that it is not discoverable:

Facebook – The biggest culprit in alleged privacy violations appears to be Facebook, due to the shear volume of users. Under the Home button at the top right, there is a Privacy Settings button. There, you can limit who has access to see your posts, determine whether or not your profile is searchable by strangers, and determine which applications you will allow access to your profile. I recommend making your profile extremely private where no one can find you unless they have your customized URL or that your friends, who see you comment on a mutual friend’s page, sends you a request that way. Moreover, I rarely “check-in” places so that I do not alert people of my actual whereabouts at any given time. Employers, potential employers, or private investigators who are looking for your profile to see what kind of dirt that they can dig up on you will not be able to find you or if they are lucky enough to, they will have to develop further cleaver tactics to “friend” you in order to get behind your “friend” wall.

Twitter – Although it is difficult to say a lot using Twitter since it is limited to I believe 143 characters per Tweet, what you do say can go viral instantly and cannot be taken back. Furthermore, Twitter can pin point your exact GPS location when you send a Tweet if you do not know what you are doing. You also have to be careful using third party applications such as TweetDeck or UberSocial to send and receive Tweets because they have there own complicated privacy settings. I advise people that want to Tweet just to there “followers” to go to settings under their avatar at the top right of the screen and check Protect My Tweets and leave Add a Location to my Tweets unchecked so that you do not disclose your whereabouts at any given point of time.

LinkedIn – Even though LinkedIn is the most professional social media site, you still can and should protect your profile. The purpose of LinkedIn primarily is to network professionally so you want people to find you, however, you do not want EVERYONE seeing your activity, your status updates, your contact information, or sometimes your connections. Depending on what industry you are in, sharing this information can be detrimental by giving away your competitive edge for free by disclosing your coveted contacts. If you click settings under your name at the top right, there are buttons called Privacy Controls and Settings at the bottom that will allow you to limit who can see what if anything at all.

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Kevin L. Nichols
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