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Maureen May
Maureen May
Attorney • (410) 321-6000

Being Socially Aware: The Privacy Expectation of Social Media

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The huge popularity of social media cannot be understated. With over a billion users worldwide, it connects friends, family, and cultures spanning the globe, and allows us to share photos and information in real time.

It is now also a powerful tool for gathering evidence relevant to legal disputes, and courts are often asked to determine the admissibility of data preserved from various social media sites, including Facebook.

“Private” and “Not Public” Not the Same

Although social media users continue to believe that their Facebook pages are private and should not be subject to discovery during litigation, courts consistently reject these arguments and generally find that “private” is not necessarily the same as “not public,” and allow the discovery of this evidence.

When content is shared, even among a limited number of specially selected friends, the litigant has no reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to the shared content, according to an article published by the American Bar Association (ABA). In other words, the very purpose of social media, which is to share content with others, prevents the finding of a reasonable expectation that the content will remain “private,” and not subject to any privacy privilege.

What Should You Do?

If you are ever involved in a legal dispute, be mindful of your presence online and on social media.  Use common sense.  Do not discuss, post articles or photographs, or even allude to the subject matter of that dispute.  Should you be involved in a personal injury claim, consider taking a break from social media all together.  Nothing online is truly private.