Social media users may be in for a rude awakening when it comes to the privacy of their accounts. New research has found that the majority of social media users are uninformed about potential legal repercussions of their posts. This has implications for employers whose employees use social media for work, too.
Less than half of the surveyed social media users in that research think their social media postings can be used against them in court.
"Social media users don’t even need to post evidence of illegal activity: If a 'check-in' or an Instagram places a defendant somewhere they shouldn’t have been, or claim not to have been, it impacts a case," said Larry Bodine, editor-in-chief of Lawyers.com, which conducted the research. "Social media activity can absolutely be subpoenaed."
Despite the majority of users thinking that social media postings are inadmissible in court, the researchers found that younger users were twice as likely to believe that postings can have legal repercussions.
Facebook and YouTube users were most likely to think that social media postings can be admissible in court. More than 40 percent of users of those platforms think postings can be used in court. Thirty-eight percent of Twitter users, 32 percent of Instagram users and 25 percent of Vine users think postings can be used against them.
The researchers also found a breakdown among income and education levels as well. Respondents with a household income of more than $75,000 were more likely than those with an income of less than $25,000 to think social media postings can be used in court. Additionally, the researchers found that respondents with a college degree were also more likely than those with only a high school diploma to believe posts can be used against them.
"Our society's inclination to tweet, post and share everything about our personal lives can be fun — but it can also lead to legal trouble," Bodine said."Our survey shows that most people are unaware that their online 'digital trail' can and will be used against them in legal situations, despite privacy settings or deleted posts."