We all know that privacy settings are essential on social media sites. We try our best to protect ourselves, keeping in mind that what we post, like or comment on could hurt our family or friends or even cost us a job opportunity. What we don’t consciously think about while tweeting, instagramming or posting is that we could face legal ramifications for our social media actions.
How Could I Be Engaging in Incriminating Actions?
There are multiple ways in which you could be engaging in incriminating actions. For example, the most obvious way to engage in such actions is to incriminate yourself directly. Stating openly or even posting a related picture on social media implying that you had any connection with a crime can and will be used against you. A social media post can be viewed as an admission, so if you feel that you may have made a social media connection with a crime, consult your attorney.
Connections and associations will also be taken into consideration when law enforcement agencies are investigating a crime. Even if you had absolutely nothing to do with the crime, being Facebook friends with a suspect could lead to trouble for you. If you aren’t consciously aware of your association with a potential suspect of a crime and tell police enforcements that you do not know them, they can see if you are affiliated with them via social media and you could face charges for perjury.
Location is a social media setting which we are not typically aware of but could cause a great deal of trouble. If you were to post a photo or status in which the location can be traced then your location can be pinpointed by anyone who you are digitally connected with, or even law enforcement. You do not have to be at the scene of the crime to be a suspect, but if you checked in somewhere else a few miles away, it is possible for them to launch an investigation on your whereabouts. While you can avoid using location services on social media for your own protection, you should be cautious and know that many apps are continuously tracking you on your phone and can share locations with your contacts.
While you may argue that you have the right to privacy and have secured your social media profiles to the best of your abilities, there are ways for law enforcement to access your profiles and go through them. It is crucial be aware of what you are posting whether a large crime like a drug ring busted in New York via Facebook, or even if you are petitioning for custody of your children.
What Your Lawyer Might Tell You About Social Media
Your lawyer may advise you to monitor your social media profiles even for court disputes that are not crime related like injury suits or divorces. An insurance claim investigator may view your photos and attest that your injury isn’t related to an accident that an insurance agency or other client may have to cover, but something else that they saw you were engaged in via your social media sites, like skydiving. Similarly, if you are in the middle of a divorce and fighting for custody of your children, your spouse could easily use posts or photos which portray you in a negative light. Your lawyer may advise you to shut down your accounts so make sure to speak with them and see what they feel is the best way to protect you from your own social media accounts.
Other Social Media Crimes
You may be reading this and think that none of the situations described above apply to you. Can you still be affected by what you say or do on social media? Absolutely. It is important to know that while we enjoy the freedom of speech, we could face trouble if we take that freedom too far. For example, any form of harassment, menacing behavior, threatening behavior or offensive comments could lead to ramifications. You may claim that your rants are “therapeutic” like Anthony Douglas Elonis who was arrested for threatening comments he made against his ex-wife.
What you say, or even repost could get you into trouble. Social media monitoring may feel like a violation against your rights, but in the long run it protects against negative outcomes like bullying and harassment. Be aware of the repercussions of what you are posting via social media. You may want to leave that thought for your diary rather than your digital profile, which will follow you around forever.