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Warning: social media use can have harmful side effects

Social media has taken hold in our society. Minnesotans connect with friends and family around the world on a daily basis. They share everything from little laughable snippets of their experiences to photographs capturing the life of their growing families, but are they too quick to click “submit” when it comes to social media?

There are also some real dangers associated with documenting our lives on such public forums as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Sometimes posting too much information can come back to haunt us when we least expect, like when we file a civil lawsuit against a party who caused us harm.

Parties to a class action lawsuit recently settled their claims for what could be a record low of $5.49, the price of two energy drinks plus interest. The lawsuit involved allegations that the manufacturer of an energy drink improperly labeled its product and that the drink had side effects, including accelerated heart rates, chills, vomiting, convulsions and chest pains.

The lawsuit over the allegedly dangerous product fell apart at the stage in which the parties sought class certification. The defense raised issue with the reliability of the co-plaintiffs. Evidence in support of their claims included photographs and other things from social media sites. The defense claimed that one of the plaintiffs abused a drug called MDMA and the other had existing chronic health problems.

The judge denied the certification of the class and the parties agreed to settle without admitting fault.

The reality is that parties in a lawsuit will use photographs, status updates, posts and tweets to try to undermine valid claims. A good attorney will work to keep this evidence out of court, but it is still prudent to follow the motto “be careful what you post.”

Source: Daily Business Review, “Beef With Energy Drink Maker Ends With $5.49 Settlement,” Samantha Joseph, April 7, 2015

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