Misusing Social Media in America’s Legal System
When Rod Blagojevich began his corruption trial, he was admonished by the judge to refrain from tweeting. Since that time, I’ve been thinking about other social media behavior that’s probably a bad idea in the legal system.
Most normal people consider encounters with the legal system to be embarrassing or simply a pain to deal with. Sometimes they’re both. Despite this prevailing attitude, some people don’t stop to think before they tweet, update Facebook or check in. Please don’t be like the three examples I’m about to tell you about.
1. Checking in to court is a bad idea. A friend of mine has a nasty little court problem she didn’t want to broadcast to her network, but she still wanted to check in on foursquare for the points. Even though she didn’t broadcast the check ins, the second time there, she became the mayor and that did get published network wide. Ooops! Unless you want to explain to your friends and family why you’re in the District court, don’t check in.
2. On the other side of the law is a Detroit juror who couldn’t wait to find the defendant guilty. She updated her Facebook status saying,
it was “gonna be fun to tell the defendant they’re guilty.”
Now she could be facing jail time for contempt! How did she get exposed? The defense attorney’s son was looking up all the jurors and found Ms. Jons Facebook account unprotected. I don’t know what was more foolish…discussing the case or not using the privacy settings on her account. We don’t always think before we post something, but we can certainly limit the number of people who see it.
3. Don’t tweet about going to jail. Unless you’re an up and coming rapper who needs the street cred, don’t tweet about your jailhouse experiences. Arguably mentally unstable, Amy Steele blogs about her ex-boyfriend who now has a restraining order against her. When she decided to leave a voice mail to him, the police wound up at her door. She tweeted,
Hopefully, you won’t have any the problems these case studies did, but if you do, now you know what not to do;
1. Don’t check in at court or jail
2. Don’t post jury information until after the trial is over
3. Don’t tweet about your legal problems. For that matter, you probably shouldn’t tweet about medical or relationship problems either. Save that for the face to face.
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