The use of the internet and various forms of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat as well as text messaging have impacted not only personal relationships but also employment, dating, and criminal laws. 

I have seen the adverse consequences as a result of people sharing information through the various forms of social media. Jobs have been lost due to employers, supervisors or customers viewing communications thoughtlessly sent to friends, coworkers or customers via text or email. People often use these forms of communications instead of talking on the phone or in person without considering the permanent nature of emails and text messages.

There are major differences between verbal communications and messages in our modern media. When we speak with each other inflection, sarcasm, and non-verbal forms of communication impact the message and put a message into context. When sending an email or text message, even if something is meant in a kidding manner, it may be perceived differently than intended.  When viewed by an employer, the email may cause the sender to be fired.

Sending pictures or comments to friends with the understanding that the communications or pictures will not go any further is dangerous. Anything sent over the Internet or on social media is not going to disappear and may be shared with others whom the originator did not intend.

People send pictures of themselves in various compromising positions to friends via email and social media.  The sending of a picture which reflects an individual under 18 years of age may constitute a crime even if it is sent or shared by a person who is under 18 years of age. Often tragic consequences result from sending embarrassing or compromising photographs. People must remember that emails do not go away and that they may come back to embarrass the originator or even subject a person to criminal investigation.

Posting your whereabouts on social media can have unintended consequences. Hackers or others with access through friends may determine that an individual is away from home. The unscrupulous may use information to plan a burglary of a home knowing that the owners are out for the evening or on vacation as seen by their posts. 

The bottom line is that everyone should assume that whatever is posted can be viewed by others now and will remain available forever. You should establish rules as to what to post, and what not to post, on social media. One rule should be no emails or posting if you are mad, upset or otherwise unable to properly appreciate your comments. Failure to do so can be a potential source of embarrassment or worse.

There is no right to privacy in anything posted or shared on the Internet even if sent to an individual who is a close friend or spouse. As Benjamin Franklin said, three people can keep a secret if two are dead.  Today, however, the secret is available to all via the Internet.

By Mark L. Horwitz
Criminal Defense Attorney
Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A.
17 East Pine St.Orlando, FL 32801
P: 407-843-7733 • F: 407-849-1321