When facing criminal charges, one’s digital footprint left on social media can become a double-edged sword. For individuals navigating the complexities of a criminal case, social media activity can inadvertently affect the outcome. Prosecutors can scrutinize the content shared and potentially use it as evidence to support their argument.
The reasons to exercise caution or even avoid social media altogether during this time are multifaceted. Posts, comments or images can be taken out of context and interpreted in ways that might not reflect the user’s intentions. Even seemingly innocuous interactions or activities online can be misconstrued or used to challenge character or credibility.
Review and adjust your privacy settings
If you’ve been accused of wrongdoing, enhancing your privacy settings is a preliminary step to protect your information. It’s essential to understand that privacy settings aren’t absolute. Friends or followers can share your content, making it accessible to a wider audience, including law enforcement. Because of this, assume anything posted could become public.
Think before you post
Adopt a cautious approach to sharing on social media. Ask yourself how a post could be perceived by someone outside your circle, particularly by the prosecution or a jury. Avoid discussing your case, sharing your location or posting anything that could be interpreted as contradictory to your defense. When in doubt, it’s safer not to post.
Limit your social media circle
Consider limiting your social media interactions to a small circle of trusted friends and family. Removing or blocking individuals who may share information with prosecution or law enforcement can add an extra layer of protection. Still, remember that anything shared within even a close-knit group can still be provided to others.
Regularly review your digital footprint
Periodically review your past posts, photos and interactions for anything that could be misconstrued or used against you in your case. It may be wise to deactivate your accounts temporarily or delete content that could be problematic.
With all of this said, you’ll also want to consult with legal counsel before deleting anything, as this action could be interpreted as tampering with evidence. And if you insist on remaining active on social media platforms before your case has resolved, asking questions about what’s appropriate for social media is also important so you don’t post things that may negatively impact your defense strategy.