Anything You Say on Facebook Can & Will Be Used Against You in a Court Of Law
Facebook may seem like a harmless hobby, but make no mistake: The blunders you post on the site can come back to haunt you.
In March, a Michigan man was charged with polygamy after he shared photos from his second marriage on Facebook. The wedding was a surprise to his first wife, from whom he was separated, but not divorced.
More recently, a Virginia court fined a widower and his attorney a combined $722,000 after trying to pull a fast one on the legal system. After a truck overturned and killed his wife, the widower filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the trucker and his employer. But when the defendant asked for a copy of the widower’s Facebook page as part of their discovery request, the widower and his lawyer deleted the widower’s account instead of producing it. (The offending page apparently showed the widower holding a beer while wearing a t-shirt that read “I [heart] hot moms.”)
With increasing frequency, people are finding that their Facebook posts can be used against them in the court of law.
A Lot of Incriminating Evidence
Facebook has more than 800 million active users—and, on average, they upload 250 million pictures a day to the site. There are no estimates on how many of those pictures people regret uploading, but you can be sure it’s more than a few. The photos taken after a few too many drinks, the pictures that show people engaged in dangerous or even illegal behavior…anyone who’s been on Facebook for a while has seen those images.
But it’s not just the pictures that can get you in trouble. Maybe you’ve testified in court you were in one place at a particular day and time, but your Facebook page shows you checked in elsewhere. Maybe your child custody agreement limits how far you can travel with your kids, but you post a status update telling friends you’re taking them to Disneyland and their father can’t stop you. Maybe you’re asking for a no-fault divorce but there’s evidence on Facebook to suggest you were having an affair before separating from your spouse.
There are all sorts of ways in which Facebook can get you in legal trouble, or be used against you in a court case.
Mind Your Ps & Qs
At the California family law firm of Heath-Newton LLP, lawyers say that it’s more and more common for social networking sites to be used as evidence in divorce and child custody cases.
“We advise all of our clients to take the following five steps with their social media, particularly in child custody matters,” says Erik W. Newton, a partner at the firm. “Change all of your passwords so that your spouse or ex cannot log into your account. Double-check your security settings so that only friends can view your page (not friends of friends), and so that you are notified when someone tags a photo of you. Remove any unsavory or questionable photos, especially those depicting alcohol consumption or parties. Remove your Wall completely so that other Facebook friends cannot leave undesirable comments on your page. And emphasize pictures of your children.”
But locking down the security settings on your Facebook account isn’t always enough.
If, during the legal discovery process, the other side asks for access to your social networking accounts, you’re required the supply the information intact—preserved in the same state it appeared when you got the request (or even had reason to believe you might have gotten the request).
And make no mistake—it’s not just Facebook accounts that are cause trouble. Newton says judges are even starting to order couples to swap passwords for their online dating sites.
A recent Forbes article tells the tale of a divorcing Connecticut couple who was forced to exchange the log-in information for their Facebook, Match and EHarmony accounts.
According to the husband’s lawyer, his client had seen some possibly incriminating evidence on a shared computer that gave him reason to believe his soon-to-be-ex-wife might not be a fit parent for full custody of their children. The wife reportedly complied, but not before allegedly asking a friend to log onto her accounts and deleted some message. Needless to say, the judge apparently wasn’t pleased.
Remember when accounting firm Arthur Andersen got in trouble because it shredded evidence in the Enron scandal? Deleting or editing your online activity if you know it’s could be used against you in a lawsuit is no different. In other words, don’t expect to be able to clean up your act after the fact.
Jennifer E. King co-authors the Lawyers.com blog.
Additional Information on Lawyers.com:
- Contact a family law lawyer in your area for specific legal advice, and read about Selecting an Attorney
- Need a form? Access hundreds of Business/Personal Legal Forms
- Access more information about divorce
- Visit the divorce forum
- Follow us on Twitter and become a Fan on Facebook to join the conversation about Lawyers.com topics online
- Download the Lawyers.com app for the iPhone or access the Legal Dictionary
It is really no secret that “Cloud” based services and mobile devises (Tablets) will rule in 2013. Here is are some more thoughts on what you can expect in 2013. Give us a call if you would like help with your online marketing.
Technology trends come and go but some are here to stay. Small business owners should expect to further embrace mobility, social media and cloud computing in the New Year, according to technology experts.
“We expect to see significant growth in cloud servers and cloud storage,” says Nick Pegley, vice president of All Covered IT Services from Konica Minolta. “The use of mobile devices is also growing significantly and helps in disasters too. If your desktop is in a damaged building, you can still use your smartphone or tablet to access data.”
In the wake of superstorm Sandy business owners are placing a greater emphasis on business continuity planning and Pegley expects more of that in 2013.
“More companies, even ones outside of the North East, are getting serious about protecting their company data from major external impacts,” says Pegley. “That includes backup strategies, procedures for dealing with office closures and communications plans for employees.”
Smartphone Popularity Continues
In the last couple of years smartphone sales have started to exceed PC sales, which demonstrates that people are using their mobile phones for more than making phone calls.
“Smartphones and tablets will be leveraged more heavily as businesses move beyond using them just for simple communications,” says Mike Pugh, vice president of marketing for j2 Global, a cloud services provider for small businesses. “Business systems, such as CRM, will go mobile enabling teams to input and access sales information on-the-go, driving higher levels of communication and productivity.”
Mobile apps will also become more prevalent for small businesses in the New Year, enabling them to be more connected, productive and use those moments of time that would be wasted if it weren’t for mobility, says Pugh.
Because the popularity of mobile devices and apps will continue to grow, small businesses will see more of a need to have a mobile-friendly Website. “Having a web presence is no longer enough,” says Jerry Nettuno, founder and CEO of Schedulicity, the online appointment scheduling service for small businesses. “Mobile users are increasingly using smartphones and tablets to research local businesses.”
Social Media ROI Will Be Examined
If 2012 was the year small businesses came to realization they had to embrace social media, 2013 will be the year they start focusing on a return on investment for their efforts, predicts Nettuno.
According to Nettuno, this year the small business conversation focused on getting the most for your investment will heat up.
“Small business owners will increasingly evaluate questions such as: Should I track website visitors or blog readers? Monitor analytics on Twitter or Facebook? Track comments, re-tweets or followers?,” said Nettuno. “Small businesses will focus on leveraging new tools, such as the new social media reports introduced by Google Analytics in 2012, to measure the value of their social media efforts.”
Cloud Adoption Explodes
For some time now small businesses have been hearing about all the virtues of taking their business into the cloud. In 2013 they will finally start listening. According to j2, in 2013 small businesses faced with increased competition and less than stellar economy will look to the cloud to save them money and boost their sales. Because of that experts predict there will be an explosion of cloud usage by small businesses.
“Cloud computing is coming of age,” says Pegley. “One of the advantages of cloud based storage is the ability to access company data even if the usual office environment is not available. It can be the difference between being able to carry on business and being closed for business.”
Here are some great tips
to help supercharge your business this year.
Want to increase your chances of converting new leads? Want to improve your blog content and grow your readership? Want to capitalize on your sales trends from 2012? If you’re looking for insights about those topics, this week’s 5 on Friday can help.
1. How to Spot Trends in Your Business and Turn Them Into Profits
What did your customers buy more of or less of in 2012? Who were your best customers in 2012? Rieva Lesonsky shares tips that can help you learn from the past year . . . and grow your business in 2013.
2. 5 Content Ideas That Never Grow Old – and 5 That Grow Old Fast
Do your blog posts help to generate leads? Do you publish both evergreen and timely content? Get some creative ideas from Monika Jansen.
3. 7 Quick Tips to Optimize Your Content for Search
Is it easy for prospects to find your content online? Are you optimizing your images, videos, and social posts? Here’s a handy checklist from Monika Jansen.
Have other sales, search, or content tips for readers? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
[gravityform id="1" name="Contact us"]
Traditional Spending Habits That Can Drive Your Small Business into the Ground
Like most small business owners, you probably can’t remember the last time that you took a vacation. In this weak economy, you simply can’t afford to put your business on the back burner for any amount of time. Money is far too tight. Even if you’re watching your organization’s revenues and expenditures like a hawk, you’re still probably looking for ways to trim its budget, and even marginally increase your after-tax earnings.
To lay the groundwork for sustainable profit growth, you’ll need to go through your business’s finances with a fine-toothed comb. Over the past two decades, certain technological advances and cultural changes have dramatically altered the country’s economic landscape. To position your business to take advantage of these trends, you’ll need to do away with its most counterproductive spending habits. Use these five smart-spending tips to start moving your small business forward.
Reduce Your Hardware Footprint
If you’re like most small business owners, you probably don’t devote very much thought to your business’s overhead expenses. After all, the costs associated with your building’s power, Internet service and rent are more or less fixed. There’s no point in trying to change things that you can’t control.
Then again, you could have some control over your overhead costs. Depending upon how much power your business consumes, you may be able to slash your organization’s electricity bills by hundreds of dollars each year without making undue sacrifices. Modern laptops and tablets use far less power compared to old-fashioned desktop computers. What’s more, laptops are typically cheaper, faster and more compact than desktops, and can result in savings well over 50%. Each time one of your business’s old desktops wears out, replace it with a laptop or tablet.
Rein in Your Printing Expenses
Printer cartridges are expensive and environmentally-unfriendly. In fact, Xerox asserts that from 1991-2008 the company recycled 2 billion pounds of spent toner cartridges. Whether you use an old-fashioned ink jet or a fancy new laser printer, you’re probably not happy with your current printing costs. Fortunately, most cartridge manufacturers and retailers participate in cartridge recycling programs. These serve dual purposes: They can reduce your ink or toner costs and may keep millions of non-biodegradable cartridges out of the country’s landfills each year.
There are a few different ways to recycle your ink toner for great results. Major office supply stores like Staples and Office Depot offer in-store rebates of $2 to $3 per used cartridge. Dedicated cartridge wholesalers offer even more robust programs that permit business owners to exchange their unusable cartridges for an equal number of freshly-recycled devices.
Get Comfortable with Inbound Marketing
Most business gurus recommend retaining an inbound marketing specialist to craft your inbound marketing strategy and attract new customers to your business. Unfortunately, this can cost unseemly amounts of money and may take months to produce tangible results. If you’re worrying about the cost of your printer ink, you probably can’t afford to add yet another expensive service to your ledger.
However, you can afford to perform many key inbound marketing functions on your own. While you may need to outsource a few specialized tasks, the contractors with whom you’ll work won’t cost nearly as much as an inbound marketing specialist.
First, make each visitor to your website an offer that he or she can’t refuse. Commission an e-book or white paper that outlines your business’s mission or provides useful, industry-specific tips and offer it to your customers for free. Once they’ve gotten a taste of what your business can do for them, your customers will be more likely to purchase your products or services. Next, start putting out a weekly or monthly e-newsletter to supplement your daily blog posts. You’ll probably need a dedicated writer for this job. Finally, rewrite your website’s content to make it appealing to visitors and friendly to search engines. To ensure that this is done correctly, you might want to hire an SEO specialist on a contract basis.
Make Friends with Affiliates
When it’s employed correctly, affiliate marketing has the potential to increase your business’s visibility in dramatic fashion and earn you loads of money in the process. Thousands of enterprising webmasters are constantly on the lookout for promising new businesses with which to affiliate. These marketing experts are especially fond of businesses that offer high-end products or subscription services. If your customers often sign up for subscriptions or payment plans, you may be able to entice elite marketers by offering them ongoing “residual” cuts of your revenue.
As long as your affiliate marketing program offers competitive rates for new leads, you’ll be able to rely on a steady supply of well-trafficked websites to hawk your products and services. Every time an interested visitor clicks on your affiliate’s link, they’ll be directed to your landing page or e-store. Most affiliate programs enjoy high conversion rates and require little ongoing effort.
5. Hire Slowly, Contract Liberally
Your small business can’t function without workers. However, it might be able to function without full-time employees. These days, many low-margin businesses rely on contract workers to perform repetitive tasks or work on time-sensitive projects. Contractors tend to be hired for short, fixed terms and are usually paid flat fees for specific amounts of work.
Many contractors are talented professionals who can’t find steady employment due to the rough economy. If you’re looking to revamp your website or start a spin-off blog, consider contracting with a freelance programmer or blogger to do the job competently and cheaply. Alternatively, you could hire a new employee on a temporary basis and dangle the promise of full-time employment after a fixed probationary period. If circumstances change and the temporary employee does not meet your requirements, you can always choose not to proceed with the hire.
Thousands of American small businesses have used these money-saving tips to strengthen their bottom lines. In fact, many small businesses that have successfully reduced their overhead costs and established productive relationships with marketing affiliates aren’t so small anymore. Yours could be next in line for the big time. Make this dream into a reality by jettisoning your old-fashioned spending habits and building a leaner, brighter business.
Jessica Bosari, Contributor
This article is available online at: