This post is part of a series titled “Social Media Dos and Don’ts for Lawyers.” Click here to view all the installments.

DO NOT Fake Friend Opposing Parties or Witnesses

Litigators should use social media to obtain useful information during discovery, but they should never use dishonest means, like “fake friending”, to do so. Fake friending occurs when a person sends a request to join another person’s social media network for ulterior purposes

This type of tactic for accessing information to advance a lawsuit has come under scrutiny from multiple sources. The basic principal is clear: attorneys cannot pose as individual in an attempt to “friend” interested parties, nor can they direct others to do so. This tactic is expressly prohibited by the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) when a party is represented by counsel.

Under Rule 4.2, an attorney cannot communicate with a potentially interested party to a lawsuit if that party is represented by counsel. The type of communications prohibited expressly include social networking communications such as sending friend requests. In addition, various state bar associations have all held that the rules of professional conduct prohibit lawyers from engage in deceptive behavior or misrepresentations to third parties in cyberspace.

This post was devised from “SOCIAL MEDIA DOS AND DON’TS FOR LAWYERS,” Business Disputes 2014 Course