They want my Social Media content

By Bob Larrivee posted 10-09-2012 11:47



Interesting statement isn’t it. You may be thinking that I am throwing this out there just to get your attention and you might be right. Did it work? I hope so because this statement is a real one that could happen to you.

You have probably figured out by now that I like to follow news related to those things that can impact your organization. One of my favorite areas to follow is the world of eDiscovery. This week, while looking over the case summaries presented in the Electronic Discovery Law site, I ran across two cases in particular that caught my attention. The first is Thompson v. Autoliv ASP, Inc., No. 2:09-cv-01375-PMP-VCF, 2012 WL 2342928 where the court ordered five years of content from Facebook and MySpace be produced for review by defending Counsel. The short version of this story is that the plaintiff claimed injuries suffered after a car accident diminished her quality of life. The defendant later saw and obtained wall postings of the plaintiff’s activities post-accident that would prove different. Plaintiff then blocked the defendant from seeing anything further. Defendant argued the information was relevant, the court agreed and plaintiff was ordered to produce the materials and present them to defense Counsel on an external storage device that was not to be shared outside of Counsel’s staff.

In the second case, People v. Harris, No. 2011NY080152, Twitter was subpoenaed to provide information contained in Tweets and Twitter records associated with the defendant in the case. As is the case with many who use Social Media, there is a sense of confidentiality associated with things written and shared. In this case, the court found that there is no reasonable expectation of confidentiality when a Tweet is sent around the globe in the same way there would be no sense of confidentiality if you were to shout out your window for all to hear. In short, if you make it public, there is no confidentiality.

In my view, these are two of many cases where the evidence is clear about Social Media use. The fundamental elements of confidentiality still apply, if you do not want it to be public knowledge, do not put it on Social Media. You and your organization must put some basic rules of appropriate use in place to protect yourself, your organization and manage risk. Like my Grandmother always said, if you want the world to know it, let them know but if it is something you want to keep in confidence, keep it to yourself. Just because you think something is confidential, does not mean it is for real. As a parting thought, I am sure you have all heard stories about someone who called in sick to work and then posted how great a time he was having on the golf course only to have his boss find it. The result was not pleasant.  Social Media can be and is often considered part of an organization’s content stores. As such, you must include it as part of your information management strategy and practices. As to the personal stuff, I leave that decision to you.

If you are ready to move forward and are finding yourself stuck or unfocused and are not sure where to begin or what to do next, seek professional assistance and/or training to get you started. Be sure to investigate AIIM's Enterprise Content Management training program.

And be sure to read the AIIM Training Briefing on ECM (authored by yours truly). Click on the image to download and read.

What say you? Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know.

Bob Larrivee, Director and Industry Advisor – AIIM
Email me:

Follow me on Twitter – BobLarrivee  


#ElectronicRecordsManagement #ScanningandCapture #InformationGovernance