This is the second segment of a three-part series discussing how social media could potentially play a role in a personal injury case. We will next look specifically at the leading social media platforms used in the U.S. today to gain a better understanding of them and their differences. It is important to remember that anything you post on these sites could possibly be used to oppose you in a personal injury claim. Roughly 70% of Americans use social media for purposes such as conversing with one another, business, news content, entertainment, shopping and much more.
Leading Social Media Sites
- Facebook: Clearly the most popular of the sites, with over 1.8 billion users. The platform is very versatile in allowing lengthy posts, business pages, photos, and videos. Has been very successful for those seeking to market to targeted demographics.
- Twitter: Claims to add 135,000 new users each day and has approximately 313 million overall users. Users send communication through brief “tweets” in this highly interactive site where users are essentially broadcasting their opinions, news, business information and more.
- LinkedIn: This is the largest social media option for professional networking, with over 100 million users. It is largely occupation-based and is a great way to stay in touch with business contacts, pursue a job, or learn about companies and those who work there.
- Pinterest: This is a visually-focused social media platform used primarily for personal postings of photos, which has become very easy to use with today's smartphone cameras. It has a healthy membership of over 150 million users and claims that 90% of their users make purchases based on what they encounter when using it.
- Instagram: Currently this social media venue boasts 600 million users. The site claims that users are 58 times more likely to share posts via Instagram than compared to Facebook users.
- Youtube: Although not originally thought of as a social media site, it has become highly interactive. This is a site centered almost exclusively on video content. Youtube has benefitted largely from being acquired by Google. It has developed to allow users to search for content topics very quickly and do so using highly specific criteria. With current cell phone video technology, the process of creating your own videos is quick and easy.
- Google+: This is still a developing social media tool that benefits largely from linking to Google's popular Gmail network. It is designed for both personal and business usage.
- Foursquare: This service is a local-based way to search for interests and to make connections. Over 50% of their 45 million users are located outside of the U.S. It is highly used to seek out recommendations for local places to go and things to do.
Best Practices for Those in Personal Injury Cases
Avoid posting details involving a personal injury case on social media. These sites are inherently public and it is unlikely that you would derive any benefit from doing so. Review your past posts to see if any of the information could be potentially detrimental to your claim. Try using Google to search for yourself, which will provide some insight into what a member of a defense team may be able to find out about you. Limit what others are posting about you online, as comments or information can be taken out of context and used against you. All of the social media platforms have some customizable preferences or settings that allow you to increase the privacy of your profile. It is important to restrict access for those that you do not know if actively involved in some form of civil litigation.
Possible Negative Impact on Your Claim
Evidence that is likely to be introduced against a plaintiff in a personal injury suit is obviously that which raises doubt about the validity of your claim. The most commonly sought information would be that which suggests that you are not injured, or that your injury is not as severe as implied in court. Another problem is potential evidence that you are not truly under tremendous emotional or mental stress. This would be used to counter claims such as emotional hardship, suffering, and distress.
In the next segment, we will address specific actions to take to protect your social media profiles.