Can A Court Grant Access to Your Personal Information on Social Media Sites During Your Case?

Although Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other forms of social media are great ways of staying in touch with family and friends, there are obvious risks associated with each one of these social mediums. Just look at the evening news to see story after story about public figures demolishing their careers through mistakes made on social media sites.

In the legal context (civil litigation), aside from the obvious (constitutional right to free speech and privacy) we are seeing demands from defense attorneys and insurance companies for access to Facebook and Myspace accounts, cell phone records, Google history and various other mediums. Which brings us to the issue of what is and what is not “discoverable” in the civil litigation context.

Can someone involved in your case be granted access to pictures of your vacation that you shared with family online? If you are involved in an accident, does the other side have access to your Facebook account? Are they entitled to view my personal posts to friends?

Laws answering these questions are new and unsettled. For now, the admissibility is a decision for the judge who must balance the relevance with the potential prejudice or hardship to the parties. But, you can be sure the defense will at least ask for this information. So, for now, we advise our clients: if you e-mail, facebook, myspace or utilize any other social media to discuss your accident or injuries, you need to at least assume that this information (i.e. pictures, communication, funny little captions, e-mails, etc.) could be discovered.