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With activities for all to see, courts could use social media exploits as evidence

Most people on social media are there to share aspects of their lives with their family and friends. However, social media can and could be used against you: Social media is starting to play an increasing role in deciding personal injury claims. It can affect the case positively or negatively, and trends show that the latter is more likely to happen.

According to the National Post, a British Columbia Supreme Court judge rejected a woman’s claims for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages by pulling 194 pages of her Facebook account and using it as evidence against her. Although social media users have become more conscientious in recent years because employers use it to gauge current and prospective employees, some people are still careless.

Rob Currie, director of the law and technology institute at Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, said that using social media to decide these kinds of cases needs to be done carefully. “Social media can be a difficult kind of evidence to use because it consists of small snapshots of what people want others to hear,” he told the National Post. “It’s different from behavior you observe or statements you hear someone make; there is a wider variety of inferences the court can draw from it.”

Related: Banks may soon scan Facebook and call records to see if you deserve a loan

Many law firms actually advise their clients to eschew social media while a case is going on. “Insurance companies know Facebook is the go-to site for people to chronicle their daily events, including details about their accident,” wrote Jim Keller, senior partner at Keller & Keller, an injury law firm. Keller also advises that people watch what their friends post about them as well, and to increase privacy settings on all social media platforms that you use.

One of the more famous cases involving social media and the legal system was the case against Casey Anthony, whose social media exploits came to light during her murder trial. Although she was found not guilty, her social media activity, such as posting pictures at a party only days after her daughter died, garnered significant public outrage against her.

Toronto-based injury law firm Zvulony & Co. says that honesty is the best policy: “Ultimately, the best way to protect your interests as a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is to be truthful about your limitations and consistent in your actions,” they said.