We’ve blogged about multilingual document translation online, social media and attorney ethics. We also wrote about professional legal translation and interpretation services and using social media to impeach a witness. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube – all of these social media platforms are excellent places for attorneys to search to ‘dig up dirt’ on an opposing witness – or even their own client! So what are the limits for doing this?
First, the process isn’t always as easy as it seems. Most social networks allow users to set their own privacy controls, letting them control who sees what.
For example, on Facebook, a user can allow only ‘friends’ to view their wall posts and images. Of course, knowing this, it might be tempting for an attorney to try to become a ‘friend’ or a follower in order to gain access to this treasure trove of information.
In summary, most ethics committees have guidelines that restrict an attorney’s ability to do just this. As a rule of thumb, unless the attorney can guarantee that the rules of their particular jurisdiction allows for the use of a false identity on social media networks, one should never attempt to use a false identity or made-up profile to obtain access to and information from a social media platform.
That being said, even when using one’s true identity to become a friend or follower, they should also include a statement disclosing their purpose for making the request. This should likewise be done when the request is made via a third party. More so, one should never make a request to a represented person nor should they interact with/on a represented person’s network.