This blog could land me in court

I have lectured my high-school daughter often that everything she posts on Facebook can and will be seen by college-admissions officers. What I neglected to tell her — and what I discovered the hard way — is that attorneys can be just as computer savvy.

Last month, I was subpoenaed to testify as a witness in a civil case and explain in court the meaning of something I had written in response to a friend’s Facebook post. The plaintiff’s attorney had somehow gotten access to my comment and quizzed me about it under oath.

I will spare you the details, other than to say the litigation concerned alimony and I had made a joke on Facebook about marriage.

The lesson I learned, and which I will pass on to my daughter, is that a social-networking site — like matrimony — must be taken seriously.

7 thoughts on “This blog could land me in court

  1. Why in the world would you tell your daughter what she places on FB will be seen by college admissions people. It’s not true. Perhaps you should spend some time with FB’s privacy settings, learning them yourself and — as a possibility — learn together with your daughter, or from her, on how to set her privacy settings as best as possible for her personal short-term goals of what she wants to share, and with whom, and for bigger goals, such as college admissions. I think you’ll be surprised to discover how much Faceoook leans toward personal privacy and how adjustable the settings are.

  2. Fact is, anything you post can travel anywhere. If the college admissions office has one connection who knows someone from that high school – and colleges often have >1 student over the course of years from similar area high schools – then the FB post is in the hands of the admissions decision makers.

    Anyone who thinks privacy is assured is misleading themselves.

    Also, same goes for job apps. FB is the second place I look.

  3. Well, “lovedata,” you do bring up an interesting point. But it’s also an ethical one. While I agree with you fully — and do my best to live my own life in accordance with this belief — that data can travel anywhere on the internet, it would be HIGHLY UNETHICAL for a college admissions offic — using the example from the initial post — to obtain information someone posted only for their view by their friends in determining anything about them.

    This is a conversation that will require some stretching and adjusting in the coming years. If I post information for my friends to see, and only my friends to see, and one of my friends takes that information out of context and out of the agreement in which I posted the information, to then give that information to another party, that’s a breech of trust. And a crappy friend.

    So, yeah, whatever. A sleuth/detective/ill-willed person can find “any” information about me/you/and the blog-post author’s daughter, but, really, what’s the point in doing so? To prove that they can find info?

    More and more, I offer, will be issues of personal branding. What does someone choose to put into the public stream and what do they say more intimately to a circle of friends. It’s the decision-making and the understanding of how to be in public that is more the issue, methinks. Not the actual behavior. No one — and I can guarantee you, NO ONE — can stand in a glass house and throw stones. Everyone has some stupid, twisted, dysfunctional something-or-other that they do/did/have done/will do.

    So, let’s all effing chill. And, get, first and foremost, that we’re all jerks in some way to someone else’s sensibilities. Then, let’s look more at who and what people are in public. And, if we’re going to help each other, let’s help each other in how to use communication/expression tools in this day/age/time, and how to use them effectively to support who we are in the world. And, I think we’d all do well to release some of the fears about getting caught! Getting caught doing what? Being young? Being ticked off? Being less-than-perfect.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents.

    By the way, “lovedata,” you could start by making the whole realm more sane by owning your own voice and personal brand in public rather than hiding behind a non-name.

  4. That “personal brand” issue is the thing that people really worry about when they worry about the consequences of using social media. That’s ultimately why I am drawing the curtain closed around more of my life in my blogging, because people in my professional life will question my professional judgment based on the kinds of information I am willing to share about my personal life. That’s a good lesson for kids to learn.

    Is that fair? I don’t know. Is it true? Yes.

  5. Upon reading Jessiex’s liberal view of social media, I felt compelled to know more. As it turns out, she is a freelance social media consultant. My two cents is that it can be monetarily advantageous to be so passionate in spewing your own views when your livelihood is involved.
    Please continue to monitor your children and warn others of the risks involved in social media. It, like anything, has its pros and cons, but additionally, it is subjective and lasts forever. Consider the multitude of interpretations of the clearly and concisely written Bible.

    Ethics? Please! People embellish, fabricate and out and out lie on a daily basis. Should we not use every piece of the puzzle, to enable a complete view?
    I agree Jessiex, that it could be ethically wrong to not hire a potential employee based on their being a Democrat or maybe even a Steelers’ fan (maybe not:) But, if I have the opportunity to skip the risk of a bad hire by discovering a partier before the expense of a drug test, or assessing one’s moral or ethical stance prior to interviewing, I’m there.
    Rest assured, FB’s privacy policy has little to do w/ your protection and exists solely to protect them.
    So, now that I’ve mounted my high horse, I may as well ride… Not only do I consider Facebook and such, in professional decisions, I also glean info in other ways sure to be of concern to Jessiex. I routinely check Family Watchdog to identify pedophiles and sex offenders in the neighborhood and would never consider allowing my children to sleepover at a friend’s before checking out the parents on the Judicial Website. And, although I’ve done it only once, I’ve even looked up the 20 year old that my 18 year briefly dated. My instincts were right. He had 5 arrest records including negligent driving at 3am and assault.
    Inquiring minds NEED to know.

  6. the best way to beat all the facebook/twitter peeping Tom’s is never use your real name or photo. the only thing you “lose” is appeal to those who don’t know who you are anyway; in other words, all those make believe “friends”. however, your REAL friends can know who you are and still access your page.

    if you’re prepared to stop collecting pretend friends and just use this nonsense to access and be accessed by your REAL LIFE friends, relatives, acquaintances and TRUSTED contacts, you can keep your information away from prying eyes, be they corporate, personal, or blood sucking, like lawyers.

  7. Unfortunately, anything posted anywhere on the internet regardless of privacy settings can be seen and can be accessed easily without the content owner even knowing about it until something rears its’ ugly head. Colleges can and do look for info via a variety of sites, companies do it when deciding whom to interview, and all of this without our knowledge. However, if asked we are not required to provide login info. They have to obtain the info themselves if told no info will be provided. It is legal that way because they are obtaining it legally without the help of the owner through many programs and data capture tools. So even with email, etc. that we use via the internet privacy setting are made to make us as users feel safe and in control but in this age of technology and access searches we are not safe..once its out there its out there forever..mainly freeware not sites such as utilities or bill pay or even banking allow these tools to be used to gather.

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