Frictionless eDiscovery; social media addicts beware…


eDiscovery just got a lot easier…for opposing counsel.

Facebook’s new system to auto-share what you do around the web may catch many Facebook enthusiasts off guard. Even “power” users of Facebook will probably run into trouble with this “frictionless sharing” feature. Once it’s enabled on a site you won’t get any other warnings that you “tracks” are being broadcast to large numbers of people.  In fact, even those people who know exactly how this new feature works will need to be on guard against sharing some seriously embarrassing and or compromising updates.

For those not in the know, Facebook is making sharing even easier by automatically sharing what you’re doing on a growing community of Facebook-connected apps.

Huh? It could be the news articles you read online, the videos you watch, the photos you view, the music you listen to, or any other action within the site or app. In the future it could be the “stuff “you buy on-line or the profiles of people you view, or diseases you looked or the fact that you searched for information on the term “formaldehyde” on a specific day…

To be fair, currently,  you must explicitly authorize a site or app to share your information with Facebook. How this sharing mechanism works depends on the app. Authorizing the Washington Post or The Guardian Facebook apps allows you to read those news sites right within Facebook. The downside, however, is that everything you read is shared back to your friends via a timeline… This capability may also effect those news organizations which have jumped into this partnership opportunity. These news organizations may see a drop in views because potential readers will now have to first consider how viewing a particular story will affect their reputation; Do I really want to click on this story knowing my “friends” will know I viewed this?

A timeline… REALLY! Do your friends really need to know you viewed a website titled “BieberFever.Com” at 1:13 am last Thursday morning? Or that you read an article on setting up a Swiss bank account 57 minutes after you received notice of a pending lawsuit? Talk about making the opposing counsel’s job easier…every discovery request will automatically include Facebook accounts.

Another group that needs to be careful are employees. I can imagine an HR representative viewing an employee’s Facebook page to verify, via the employee’s timeline, they have been surfing the web for the last 17 days.

I have repeatedly warned friends that social media sites like Facebook are potentially dangerous in that what you (or an application) post to your social media site could be used against you by potential employers, current employers or attorneys. One question I suggest all social media addicts ask themselves before they post is; “Is this something I would feel comfortable showing up on the front page of the New York Times?”…Because someday it could.

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3 thoughts on “Frictionless eDiscovery; social media addicts beware…

  1. The amount of time that people spend on Facebook is staggering. During the recent power outage after Irene blew northward, a local library in northern Fairfield County CT had one of the only Internet connections in town. I was there writing a paper using their wireless connection for a period of 5 hours and 10 minutes. It was fascinating to watch people coming to the computer center in droves. In many cases there were lines waiting for Internet access. I had a ringside seat to watch this pilgrimage and began a one-hour tally of observations of the five computers in one area of the library.

    • Workstation 1 had 9 visitors. All went to Facebook first. 8 did nothing else.
    • Workstation 2 had 8 visitors. 6 visited Facebook first and 2 their email.
    • Workstation 3 had 7 visitors. 5 visited Facebook first, 1 email, and 1 Twitter.
    • Workstation 4 had 3 visitors. The first spent 15 minutes on Facebook and left. The second spent 16 minutes on Facebook and left. The third signed onto Facebook and went into Farmtown to manage her crops for 29+ minutes.
    • Workstation 5 had 7 visitors. All visited Facebook first and several others immediately opened up their email clients and a few other websites.

    Totals: 34 Visitors. 30 visited Facebook first – 88%! 13 people were male, 21 female. 12 were adults, 22 were teens or tweens (and many certainly under the age of 13).

    The reliance on this social network must also result in an astounding percentage of productivity loss in the workplace from company-owned computers and personally owned Smartphone’s. People are so blissfully unaware that their activities are tracked and can be used against them. I spend a great deal of time with teenagers and am able to speak to them about online security and vulnerabilities weekly. It was thrilling to hear a HS freshman quoting me saying, “Don’t ever write anything on FB that you don’t want your Mom, your teachers or the police to read! Don’t even text bad stuff”. Ah ….. some of them can actually hear and take heed.

    A freshman boy was missing from home and the local police called our home late one evening a few weeks ago. They wanted to speak to my son who was the boys FB friend. He did not know where he was but gave a suggestion. The boy was at a new friend’s house that is not on FB (which is amazing in itself). This highly relevant news to the freshman class and was communicated to hundreds of students in minutes. The text message that my son received said, “SEE!? ____’s mom wuz RIGHT! The police can see our FB friends”. One at a time, we can let them know.

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