As I mentioned in a previous post, social networking is a part of the fabric of most adult lives. We use Facebook to communicate with close and distant “friends.” We post photographs and comment on others on impulse, often without a second thought.
Social networking communication may become discoverable in civil litigation and the client must understand this upon retaining a lawyer. To adequately protect a client and permit the client to protect him or herself, certain steps should be taken at the onset of representation. Today, we will discuss three.
First, the lawyer must understand the scope or universe of social networking activity. Does the client have a Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter or other online profile? If so, what forms of communication does the client engage in? Ask these questions immediately and make sure the client understands that they must inform you if new activities are commenced.
Second, the lawyer must consider reviewing the activities to date. The client should provide their login and password information so the lawyer may review the activity to date. This will allow the lawyer to understand how the particular client utilizes social networking and, therefore, make the lawyer’s ability to advise the client more informed and relevant. Also, the lawyer can assess whether any damaging or helpful information is present.
Finally, make sure the client understands the privacy settings. Clients must understand that they need to be vigilant to protect their privacy and this starts with appropriate privacy settings on all of their accounts.
Next time we will discuss three additional steps regarding a client’s social networking activity that the lawyer should consider upon engagement.