Facebook Privacy Concerns
It was the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona in which the supreme court ruled (by a vote of 5-4) that what you say –or even admit to – in an interrogation can only be used against you if you were made aware of your legal rights before answering any questions. You’ve probably heard the following hundreds of time: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, the state will appoint you one.” Of course you didn’t hear those in person, delivered to you by an officer of the law. You probably saw it on an episode of Law and Order. Right? Right. Remember, anything you say can and may be used against you!
The aforementioned quoted statements are known as the arrested party’s “Miranda Rights.” For quite a while, they have remained the same. There haven’t been too many adjustments to the notion behind the rights. Until now, that is. Things are about to get a whole lot more complicated. Young people growing up during the technological revolution that is our current era might not be too shocked by the oncoming changes, but those who have been around for a little longer are in for a surprise.
We’ve all been told not to “sext” or engage in inappropriate language via the internet, cell-phone text-messaging or any other communication medium that is not face-to-face interaction (which seems to have gone by the wayside). Parents also frequently remind their children to be wary of social media sites, and not to confuse them with personal diaries which can be stowed away under the mattress. Many people think that what’s written on a webpage – whether it be Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Blogspot, etc. – is the property of the party who wrote the given piece of writing. WRONG.
You know to read the fine print on credit card agreements and apartment leases (hopefully) so you should be aware enough to take a look at the fine print embedded on these websites. What you enter onto these sites is NOT just your property, it belongs to the website, and once it’s there it is there permanently. Delete all you want, clear your history until you’re fingers turn purple, but what you write will stay in cyberspace until cyberspace fails to exist. And from the looks of it, that could be quite a while.
So, why are we blogging about the indelibility of what you post online? Because it might come back to bite you in the behind – and not just because of some caddy gossip you may have engaged in. Lawyers across the country are beginning to use information that they find on an individual’s Facebook against them in a court of law. Most recently, state officials in New York have ruled that content pulled from somebody’s public Facebook profile is admissible as evidence under many circumstances. So, you still have the right to remain silent. But what you say – or post, blog, tweet, comment, etc – can and may be used against you in a court of law.
Facebook is becoming such a concrete part of today’s society that opposing counsel in civil suits have been reported to have added the opposing side’s client as a “friend” on Facebook as a means by which to retrieve information about them that would otherwise the public. This adds a whole new layer of scrutiny which you should employ when deciding who is worthy of being your “friend” on Facebook and who is not. Be careful what you post on Facebook (and anywhere else on the internet for that matter). It might upset someone – including a judge.
For more information, or for questions or comments, please contact the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green at 561-266-9191 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.