The Dangers of Facebook
February 13, 2012
By Seth Harris
Every day, millions of people log onto Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. They post photos, write candid thoughts in their status updates and even “check in” to specific locations so that their “friends” know exactly where they are and with whom.
The problem is that these social-networking sites are public. Anyone can register for free and begin accessing profiles where information is harbored and displayed. If your privacy is important — if you are applying for a job or if you are involved in a court case — anything and everything that you post on sites like these can potentially be misconstrued and used against you.
Many users rely on the privacy settings provided on these sites to protect them from the dangers of posting such information publicly. However, numerous online articles tell readers step-by-step the techniques to hack private profiles and view their contents. Additionally, even without hacking, many profiles freely reveal your profile photo, gender, birthday and where you live (if you have provided them on the site). Furthermore, consider the number of “friend requests” accepted on a daily basis from unknown individuals. If someone approached you on the street and asked you for a photo of your mother or son, would you oblige them? If you received a call from a blocked number and the voice on the other end asked exactly where you were and whom you were with, would you tell them? The answer is undoubtedly no. However, millions do exactly that every day on Facebook.
How can the decision to participate on these sites affect our daily lives? Many of you may not care that strangers know what you are doing, but for some it is a poor decision with unimagined repercussions.
Take, for instance, a potential employer reading your resume and cover letter. They may think you are the qualified candidate they have been seeking. Then, they log on to Facebook and see a photo of you and a friend at a baseball game, both of you clearly intoxicated. The employer may begin to question your character, and that may keep you from getting the job you want. Is the value of Facebook in your life more than the income that job would have provided? The same scenario is possible in law.
If you have a personal injury case, the information you provide on social-networking sites might be invaluable to the defense. If you have been in a motor vehicle accident and suffered an injury to your shoulder, the defense will find a picture of you holding your child and use it to show that you no longer have pain when in fact you do. If you have tripped and fallen on busted concrete and fractured your ankle, the defense will cite your status update of “dancing in the club with my girls” and use it to reduce the pain you are suffering.
Almost anything you post can be accessed by the defense and manipulated to affect your case. You must make it your priority to disengage from these sites for the length of your case. A few images or quotes can have a dramatic effect on a jury or a judge and may change the outcome. Consider what your postings will cost you if they were to be used against you and ask yourself, is it worth it? Facebook and Twitter are free, fun and everyone is participating on them. They can be hard to resist, but don’t help the defense by making your life easily accessible to them. Your privacy is the best offense.
Founded in 1996, the New York law firm of Burns and Harris fights for your rights when you have been injured from an accident or another’s negligence. We have a proven track record in representing client interests from the time of their initial consultation to the resolution of their case. Call 1-888-PAINLAW (1-888-724-6529).