The increased use of social media has led to a rapid decline in user anonymity and privacy. Social media makes it easy to share intimate details of all aspects of life, so using social media without considering how big companies might use it can be potentially harmful.

This is particularly true for people with an open personal injury claim. Increasingly, we see insurance companies using and exploiting social media data against people recovering from traumatic injuries. As a result, social media is playing an increasingly influential role in litigation related to personal injury cases.

Note that when you post online, you do not retain ownership or control of the information once published. According to the terms and conditions of use of most social media sites, any information posted online becomes the property of the website or app. Once posted, a site may share or disclose the information to a third party, including an insurance company.

Information posted online is not protected by the privacy guarantees of the social media website or attorney-client privilege. Insurance adjusters and defense lawyers will use anything they can find to attack the credibility of an injured person and undermine their claim.

Even before a lawsuit is filed, insurance adjusters routinely track the internet for photos and status updates showing that the injured party is engaging in demanding physical activities (think: dancing, walking, rock climbing, and even playing with grandchildren).

This can become fodder for the insurance company to attempt to discredit the claimed injuries.

Comments and posts from friends or family can also be used to shame the injured person or degrade their character (think: references to parties, silly photos, or emotional or angry status updates).

Websites and apps like Foursquare and Facebook that track a person’s movement or allow them to “check in” at locations can also provide information about a person’s activities that can be used to question the validity of their injuries.

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