It is uncanny how many people, and not exclusively giddy-headed school kids, happily spill sundry details of their lives on social media. And while too caustic a remark about a movie, a pop star or a sports team might drag you in a heated flame-fest with their fans, indiscriminate posting of personal photos and videos or expressing biased opinions about close relations, co-workers or employers can backfire one day, causing quite a bit of trouble. Since social media are so tightly interwoven with all spheres of life, the content users post is more and more frequently used in court proceedings – thus, what you have said online might very well be used against you. Here’re some cases of how social media activity led to legal trouble.
1. Defamation Charges
No one can do without their share of frustration in life; and no one is forbidden to express their sorrow or resentment – where’s the harm in that, really? There is none – unless it is online, public, and implies that someone else is to blame for your (or your family’s) misfortune. If you make a statement that a person wronged you in this or that way, be ready to provide substantial proof – or you might end up getting sued for defamation, by tweet or other social media means, and pay an arm and a leg in damages if you’re found guilty.
2. Child Custody Battles
Professional child custody attorneys will be eager to use any information that is public in a social media profile to fortify their client’s case against the ex-spouse, especially in the sensitive issue of child custody. For instance, when the court is considering who of the parents should be granted these rights, it is not infrequent that they’d refer to the parties’ Facebook profiles to evaluate each spouse’s maturity and parental fitness. So if any of the parents’ account show evidence of substance abuse or mental instability, it most likely will make winning custody rights far more difficult for him or her. Moreover, if later on the guardian’s social media profile reveals facts that allow ambiguous interpretation, the opposing party may pounce upon it and start a new round of litigation.
3. Ground for Divorce
A decade ago, the idea that relationships would fall apart because of social media use sounded ridiculous. Yet recently this factor has been steadily growing in importance in divorce proceedings. While the reasons why partners spy on each other via social media is a question for psychologists or psychiatrists, snooping around to check your spouse’s social life has the potential to disrupt your relationship – either because you might discover something you won’t like, or because your spouse will be outraged with your distrust. Yet you can at least partially prevent such development – by spending quality time together doing something meaningful for you both, rather than checking your friend streams for a zillionth time that day.
4. Misinformation Can Be Regarded as Offence
Retweeting, regramming and otherwise sharing any content on social media is akin to pandemic. With the cosmic amounts of information, it’s hard not to step into sharing fake stuff. You may be horribly embarrassed because of it later, but you might also face serious charges if you’re found out with posting or spreading misinformation. As of yet, there’s no clear-cut concept as to who should be held responsible for fake news circulation – individual users or a social media platform that is the carrier; it varies from case to case, but think twice before sharing something dubious – or before pulling a fake news prank, as it may lead to arrest.
‘Sharing is caring’ acquires a totally different meaning in the context of social media – and you’d be wise to double- and triple-check any info before you hit the ‘Share’ button.