Written By: Lisa Fantone

Remember when Facebook was brand new, and instead of all the pictures and videos posted today, it mainly was “status updates” about what everyone was actually, physically doing? Remember playing the “Note” games – answering a group of often very intimate questions, tagging only the people you wanted to read it, and then waiting for others to do the same and tag you back? I always hoped someone would finally reveal that his secret crush in high school was me.

While those “Notes” kept some of our thoughts “kinda/sorta” private, Facebook in general is a public site, where you can read about people you never met. You could be friends with people you’d never recognize on the street, and all the while, you could be sharing your very personal and private thoughts and feelings with anyone who takes the time to read your posts. It’s liberating, and it raises your self-esteem when others begin to chime in and acknowledge and agree with your words! But now, there is real danger here.

Some privacy policies have been put into place in the intervening years, but subpoenas of Facebook contents in various lawsuits are becoming more and more common. What you post on Facebook and Twitter and other social media outlets can become public knowledge when a subpoena is written. Additionally, you might become “friends” with someone you don’t recognize or know, only to learn that it’s a fake person who is watching and saving what you are posting.

If you are involved in a lawsuit, whether it’s a civil matter or a domestic relations matter, the prudent thing to do is sign off of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram or whatever social media you are using. It’s a temporary measure that can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.

If you just can’t bring yourself to completely sign off, even temporarily, it’s best either to post nothing nor to make comments on anyone’s posts, or to keep your posts very benign and harmless. Post pictures of your dog, but no pictures of your latest alcoholic creation or of the crazy party you attended last weekend. Absolutely refrain from posting your thoughts on your soon-to-be ex. A little restraint now makes for a smoother case in the long run.