People have become so accustomed to interacting on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter that they consider participating in these discussions to be the equivalent of talking on the phone. However, there's a big difference between posting a comment online and barking it into your cell phone: in the former case, what you say will be preserved in perpetuity, while in the latter case (unless the Feds happen to be tapping your communications!) it will quickly dissipate into the ether.
When You're Using Social Media, Always Think Before You Type
What is the worst that can happen if, in the heat of the moment, you post something on Facebook or Twitter that you instantly regret? Here's a common scenario:
- You post a thread on your law firm's Facebook page, or tweet on your Twitter account, an offensive comment like, “The judge who made this decision shouldn't be reprimanded; he should be shot!”
- Your comment is retweeted, or shared by your Facebook friends, who either agree or disagree strongly with what you have said.
- The comment slowly works its way through the Internet, as it's continually retweeted and re-shared by hundreds, or even thousands, of people.
- Eventually, the comment comes to the attention of the news media (a local paper, a digital news service, a blogger with an ax to grind, etc.).
- You are called out in public for making such an ill-considered post, and the resulting negative publicity necessitates going into “crisis mode” and issuing a public apology.
Remember: What You Say on the Internet Lasts Forever
Most lawyers are smart enough not to post comments on their own social media pages (or on the pages of friends or associates) that reflect badly on their judgment and land them in hot water with the media and the public at large.