Beware of those Old Pictures

Bankruptcy law books
Posted by Mark Martella on Wed, March 06, 2013 @ 10:15 AM

After over a year of prodding from my marketing consultants, Rob & Kate Oliver, I finally launched my firm Facebook page. Not only did I launch one page, I launched a second page dedicated just to business issues. Please visit our pages called the “Martella Law Firm” and “Martella Law-Business”. I am told I am supposed to also ask you to “LIKE” the pages. If you do LIKE either of the pages and, post a comment that you saw this article in our Newsletter, you will be entered into our drawing to win a $10.00 Panera gift card!

As I was trying to figure out what to put on the pages that would be helpful to others looking for information, I also started to think about the dangers and mistakes I have seen people make on Facebook. I believe that one of the great misconceptions out there is that people have the right to exercise their 1st Amendment rights with impunity and, need not worry about getting fired for exercising their rights. The BIG misconception is that the 1st Amendment ONLY protects us from limitations on our speech imposed by the Federal Government.

Those protections are extended to protect us from State and Local governments, through the Application of the 1st Amendment, by the language of the 14th amendment applying portions of the Bill Of Rights to the States through U.S. Supreme Court decisions. However, those protections do not apply to an employer taking action for opinions that you may express on Facebook or other internet postings. Therefore, think twice before posting comments that could be offensive or damaging to your employer. A quick search on the internet under the term “Facebook firings” will bring up hundreds of pages of examples of people being fired because of postings.

Read: 12 Tips for New Business Start Ups

Also, posting on Facebook can be damaging to you if you are looking for a job. Beware of those old pictures you posted from your trip to Key West three years ago during Fantasy Fest! Future employers are doing searches of social media sites before making hiring decisions.

Additionally, I am always amazed at teenagers (and adults) who post illegal activities like underage drinking or drug use. These are obvious admissions that “can be used against you in a court of law.” Once you post something on the web, you pretty much lose any expectation of privacy and, assume that law enforcement will know of your activity. Even if you are able to delete the postings, keep in mind that entities like Facebook are subject to subpoenas and, therefore, transcripts of your postings are discoverable by prosecutors.

Finally, even the 1st Amendment doesn’t protect you from libelous statements made on Facebook. Therefore, if you make a false statement about someone that is stated as a fact and, it turns out to be untrue, you may have opened yourself up to a defamation lawsuit.
The best rule of thumb to use before you hit that post button is: “When in doubt . . . don’t!”