What you post online on your social media isn’t off limits in litigation even if you post it on private.
A recent case out of the Fourth District Court of Appeals confirms that party’s posts, photographs and videos on social media are a valid and relevant form of discoverable evidence. The Fourth District Court of Appeals recently ordered a woman who sued Target for personal injuries arising out of an alleged slip and fall injury to produce pictures she had deleted from her Facebook account, holding that social media users should not expect information posted on social media sites to remain private. The Court noted that this case stood, “at the intersection of a litigant’s privacy interests in social media postings and the broad discovery allowed in Florida in a civil case.”
The Court reasoned that the relevance of the photographs overwhelmed the plaintiff’s “minimal” privacy interest in them, because, the photographs would help establish the exact extent of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries. The Court stated that photographs posted on social media networking sites are neither privileged nor protected by any privacy rights regardless of any privacy settings that the user may have employed. The Court held that these photographs were reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence; the photographs she chose to share on social media were the equivalent of a “day in the life” slide show produced by plaintiff prior to the existence of any motive to manipulate reality and were powerfully relevant to the issue of damages. The Court specifically noted that “such posted photographs are unlike medical records or communications with one’s attorney, where disclosure is confide to narrow, confidential relationships. Facebook itself does not guarantee privacy…by creating a Facebook account, a user acknowledges that her personal information would be shared with others.”
This case highlights some very important issues. First, if you’re going to share anything about yourself online it is fair game for an opponent in litigation to see and explore everything you’ve posted as part of litigation discovery. Second, like any other discoverable evidence, once you’ve decided to file suit, you cannot delete or otherwise destroy prior postings since it is relevant and discoverable evidence just like any other evidence in litigation.
If you and your company are facing a serious legal issue, then we invite you to contact our award-winning Florida business law attorneys at Rosenthal Law Group today. Call our offices to request a consultation with our team.