By early May, 2013, Facebook had over 1.11 billion users and Twitter had over 550 million users. Social media is fast becoming the preferred method of communication among the masses, probably because of the enticing ability to post on-the-go. But do you stop and think before you post? The man who posted pictures of his second wedding when he was still married to his first wife probably did not. A post may seem innocuous to you today, but tomorrow’s a different story.
At some point you may have regretted posting a comment or photograph, and tried deleting it and/or even your complete profile. However, deleting accounts does not, necessarily, get rid of the posts. And, it could lead to hefty penalties for spoliation of the evidence. As recently reported on Lawyers.com, a Virginia court fined a widower and his attorney a combined $722,000 for trying to delete a Facebook account which included photographs that were less than helpful to their case.
Social media may be a great way to increase your reach, solicit participation from members, provide quick up-to-date reminders, and promote other community-building efforts. But realize that what you post online, most likely stays online. What makes social media different from other types of online communications, such as static websites or e-newsletters, is that your posts have the ability to be re-tweeted, shared, linked to, forwarded, and ultimately catapulted into the cyber-world well beyond your initial intended recipient. And, as noted in the Virginia case, trying to delete the evidence may only get you into further trouble.
Whether you’re a board member, committee member, community manager, etc., be mindful of what you post. And, be sure to adopt and follow a social media policy that includes tips to help minimize potential liability.