Social media is used by virtually everyone. All age groups are available to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogger, and many other social media sites. On a day-to-day basis, these sites can provide easy entertainment and communication. All it takes is a click of a button and you can see what your friends are up to. You can read their statuses, go through their photos, see where they’ve been, and much more. Most view social media as innocent fun and simple curiosity. However, while involved in a personal injury claim, what you post (or even what your friends and family post about you) can seriously damage your case.
Individuals are responsible for their own posts or tweets. Obviously, it is up to you what you want to share with your acquaintances, friends, and family. However, be aware that what you share could potentially be used against you.
For example, if you have a pending personal injury claim in where you claim that your quality of life has been hindered, and you post photos of you and your family going on a vacation, the insurance adjuster can use that information against you. They will claim that you were not as hurt as you claim to be, they will claim that your ability to function has not been impeded, they will claim that you are able to work, they will claim that your quality of life has not been affected. It will make your case an uphill battle with a jury once the insurance adjuster shows your pictures, or videos, or comments. In the eyes of the jury, your credibility is gone.
You may believe that you have the best privacy settings and that no one who isn’t your friend can see what you are up to in social media. However, in several instances, this is not the case.
The last thing you want to ruin your case is a photo or comment on social media that was taken out of context. Therefore, the best way to escape the risk is by avoiding social media for the duration of your case.
Understandably, this might not be the simplest task. If social media use is unavoidable, there are a few tips that can help make sure that no one unwanted is taking a look at your profiles.
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- Make sure you know your privacy settings. You can learn about your privacy settings by clicking the drop down arrow on the upper-right corner of your Facebook page. Adjust your settings accordingly.
- When you post a life update, photo, video, etc., make sure you know who the audience is. The audience selector tool is found to the left of the “post” button. Adjust the setting accordingly.
- If you wish to have only a very specific set of people see a post of yours, create a “list.” The list option can be found under your friend’s tab. Click on “more” and then “create list.” Make sure that the people that you add to your lists are entirely trustworthy. Even then, if you believe that what you are about to share to specific friends can be taken out of context and used against you by an individual working against your case, then think twice before posting.
- Be aware of what posts you are being tagged in by friends and family. Timeline review is a good feature to have during a pending case. Timeline Review notifies you when a friend has tagged you in their posts and lets you decide whether you would like it to appear on your own individual Timeline. However, be aware that even if you don’t want the post to appear in your own individual Timeline, it may still appear in other locations on Facebook, such as your News Feed.
- To control who sees posts that you are tagged in on your Timeline, go to the drop down arrow on the top right of your Facebook page. Go to settings and click “Timeline and Tagging.” Look for “Who can see posts you’ve been tagged in on your Timeline?” and hit edit. Choose the audience accordingly.
- If you want to remove a tag from a photo or post, hover over it and click the drop down arrow. Choose “Report/Remove Tag” from the menu. If you want the photo or post to be taken down from Facebook entirely, ask the person who posted it to remove it.
- Make sure you know who your “friends” are. Ideally, you should be able to trust those you have accepted as Facebook friends to not share your information with others who wish to use the information against you. This is not always the case. Look through your friends and decide whether they are true friends, family, or acquaintances or if they are more strangers. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: “Have you ever had a face to face conversation with this individual?” If the answer is no, then it might be worth it to reevaluate the Facebook Friendship.
- Your Tweets are set to public by default. This means that unless you made the effort to change your Tweets to private, anyone can see them. Individuals don’t even need a Twitter account to see what you have been sharing.
- If you decide to set your Tweets to private, you will have control of who you allow to see them. Each new follower will have to be approved by you.
- Be careful with you allow to follow you. If you do not know who they are, you do not know their intentions. This doesn’t mean that everyone is a potential harm to you or your case, but it is better to be cautious.
- To protect your tweets, go to the “Security and privacy settings.” Go to Tweet privacy and check the box titled “Protect my Tweets.” Hit save and you will need your password to confirm the switch.
- Use common sense with what you Tweet, even if your settings are on private. When in doubt, don’t Tweet.
- Your photos and videos are set to public by default. They can be seen by anyone with an Internet connection.
- You can set your posts to private through the Instagram application. You cannot set your posts to private through a laptop or desktop.
- To set your pictures and videos to private, open the application on your phone and tap the icon on the bottom bar that is furthest right (it looks like a circle with three lines horizontal next to it). This icon takes you to your profile. “Click Edit Your Profile” next to your profile picture. Click the “Posts are Private” setting and then hit done.
- Remember, even if your privacy settings are private on Instagram, if you decide to share a photo or video to another social media network (like Facebook or Twitter), it could be seen publicly. It all depends on your privacy settings on each individual site.
- It is best not to accept a follow request from someone you do not know.
- Your blogs are set to public by default. They can be read by anyone with access to the Internet.
- You can make your blogs private by going to the “Settings” tab, go to the Blog Readers section and click “Edit.”
- Click the “Only these readers” option and you will be able to decide who specifically gets to see your blog entries.
- Click Add Readers and type in the email addresses of the people who may see your blog.
- Remember, even with these very specific privacy settings, it is still better not to write any information about your case. Good rule of thumb, imagine your entries being read out loud in open court. Would you be comfortable? If not, it is better to err on the side of caution and not post.
Insurance adjusters will try to get as much information about you as possible. Social media sites include information that you willingly post, and they may look to social media to discredit you. What could appear as a seemingly innocent post to you could be used to paint you as a liar.
The best advice to make sure that social media doesn’t interfere with your case is to stay away from these sites while your claim is being settled. You might take all necessary precautions to make sure that your social media sites are as private as possible, but all it takes is for you to have a friend that the insurance adjuster knows.
Facebook has the option of temporarily deactivating your account. No one will be able to search you and find your profile. You can come reactivate your account later down in the road (preferably when your case is settled). This option helps eliminate temptations.
The next best piece of advice for all other sites, if you continue to use them, is to not mention your personal injury claim. Again, the last thing you want is for you case to be damaged because of a social media post. When in doubt, do not share online.
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