In today’s world of the internet and Google, you would be hard pressed to find someone not on Facebook, Twitter or some other form of social media. While there are many positives to using these programs, ranging from keeping in touch with family, or promoting a business, there are some important points that must be considered.
Facebook accounts are more frequently being used in litigation, particularly in the realm of family law, where we are seeing them used more and more in custody and access disputes. One party’s comments about the other, or their weekend activities can possibly come back to haunt them. It is therefore, very important that you consider who will possibly see what it is you post and whether you are truly willing to let your comments or pictures be available to the world at large (and perhaps a judge).
Furthermore, the days when a person could hide behind their privacy settings are likely coming to an end in Alberta. The Supreme Court of British Columbia in Fric v. Gershman 2012 BCSC 614, considered whether or not the Plaintiff in a personal injury claim was required to disclose information found on their Facebook profile. The Court ultimately required the Plaintiff to produce photos they had posted to Facebook. The photos showed the Plaintiff engaging in physical activities that were potentially, not in line with her injuries. We should all be prepared for, and expect opposing parties, whether they are insurance companies or ex-spouses to monitor our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Whether or not something should be disclosed in a court action, is based upon whether it is relevant and material and not based upon whether it is protected by privacy settings on Facebook. It is important for parties in all lawsuits to be aware of what their digital footprint is, but even more important in family proceedings and personal injury claims. What you say or do online, can have a detrimental effect on your case.