There’s no denying it – social media is a huge part of our lives. I usually scroll through my Instagram feed before I’ve even had my first cup of coffee, and I don’t do anything before I’ve had my first cup of coffee. It turns out I’m not the only one addicted to screen time- Americans in the 25-34 age bracket look at their devices 50 times per day. There’s even a word for when you ignore your significant other for your phone – phubbing (When this happens to me I like to get super passive aggressive and hum this salty number… works like a charm).
Sending DMs and snaps feels private and safe. But where do those Facebook comments and Insta messages actually go? And could they come back to haunt you? Turns out your mama was right when she said not to put anything in writing you don’t want on the cover of a newspaper. If you have any doubt about what this might include, Forbes has made a list of the ten things you should never put in writing. Courts are starting to catch up with the times, and allowing social media postings and photographs to come in as evidence in trials.
It’s obvious things like sexting can get you in trouble. But it’s good to know that basically anything you message, post, or comment on can be used against you. In order for a social media post to be admissible as evidence in a court of law it has to meet three tests. 1) The post has to be relevant 2) It must be authentic and 3) The statement has to be excepted from the hearsay rule.
Here’s an example: I’m shopping at Wholefoods and I slip and fall on a puddle of water from a toddler pulling Pellegrino bottles off the shelf (I wouldn’t know this particular toddler). I sue Wholefoods for negligence, and claim I have back problems that are keeping me from work and costing me a small fortune in doctor’s bills. At trial, Wholefoods wants to use a photo that I have posted on Facebook of me dancing on a table to show that I don’t have back problems (again, hypothetical).
The Court would most likely allow Wholefoods to use this evidence. Why? 1) It’s relevant to my personal injury claim 2) Wholefoods can show it’s authentic if they can prove it’s my account by showing, for example, that I accessed it from my computer 3) Photos aren’t hearsay.
And while you may think your snaps and stories magically disappear into the abyss, that’s not completely true. Even the timing of your phone activity can be used against you, like if you were texting during that fender bender.
Lock it up or get locked up.