Everyday millions of people log into their favorite social networking sites to start their day, catch up during the day and end the day visiting with friends, business associates or looking for new contacts. What we are all doing is giving and receiving information about ourselves and others! A recent Pew Report states that 50% of the U.S. population uses social networking websites on a regular basis and 26% of the 50+ population engages in social networking!
Other interesting facts from Pew Reports: the U.S. 18-29 year-olds use their cell phone for the internet compared with 49% of 30-49 year-olds and 21% of 50+ users. The popularity of texting, taking pictures or video is increasing the use of social networking sites for all ages. These users of social networking and messaging services post information without much discretion or future perception as to what is said and how this information can legally be used against them down the road.
The Ten Most Popular Social Networking Sites of 2012 – takenfrom Hitwise.com (1/7/2012)
1. Facebook, 64.28% visits share
2. You Tube, 19.57% visits share
3. Twitter, 1.48% visits share
4. Yahoo!Answers .96% visits share
5. Tagged, .75% visits share
6. Linkedin, .67% visits share
7. Pinterest.com, .48% visits share
8. MySpace, .44% visits share
9. Google+, .42% visits share
10. MyYearbook .39% visits share
You should exercise careful thoughtful judgment when posting on social networking sites. Think before your post! Could this post , which is one click away to immortality, be potentially damaging to you, others you care about or business relationships?
In today’s world, many lawyers are asking very specific questions to their clients concerning email addresses, use of social networking sites and types of personal information the client has posted about themselves, or information publicly disclosed from other people’s social networking. Many lawyers now ask their clients to stop using or to deactivate their social networking sites during their litigation process. Better safe than sorry!
The use of Electronically Stored Information (ESI) is now starting to be addressed by the U.S. Government and many states regarding usage for legal issues. The Federal Rules have been recently amended to mention ESI and set up a framework on dealing with this information. The new rules include ESI to email, web pages, word processing files, computer databases, and just about anything that is stored on a computer. The definition of ESI also includes traditional email, instant and text messaging, voice mail, personal webmail, blogging and other new emerging technologies. Potential relevant information from any of these sources must now be preserved by litigants in the federal courts. Just remember what you do or say online can and will be used against you and distorted since “you said it”!