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How damaging can social media evidence be?

How damaging can social media evidence be?

An article by the President of the Law Institute of Victoria highlights some issues about social media and the impact it can have as evidence in a court case. An example is given of a case where:

’…a firm was acting for a client who had suffered a car accident that had apparently caused damage to her cognitive function, diminishing her decision making ability, concentration and causing stress that rendered her unable to maintain social relationships.

The case was progressing well, until the opposition presented their evidence. It included details of the client’s active, and unprotected, Facebook account. Not only did she regularly update her account with details of her busy social life, but she was also an avid Facebook gamer – and a pretty good one at that, with some impressively high scores. Needless to say, the case resulted in a significantly different outcome than anticipated at the outset.’

Although this article relates to the laws in Victoria, the same principles about admissibility of evidence apply in NSW. In NSW the laws of evidence are set out in the Evidence Act 1995.

The article sets out key tips for lawyers to advise their clients regarding their social media, but the same approach applies to looking after your own information, particularly if you have a current legal issue:

  1. Check the privacy settings for each of your social media accounts.
  2. Think about the type of content that is appropriate to share on social media (eg. don’t post anything you would not want their grandmother, employer or a judge to see).
  3. Review your social media contacts and delete those with whom you are no longer acquainted.
  4. Do you store or share passwords for social media accounts or access them on public computers?