Social Media and Mobile Devices Spur Growth in Lawsuits

While social media sites and mobile devices offer expanded communication and flexible work options, they are also causing a spike in litigation.

More than half (52 percent) of lawyers recently interviewed by Robert Half Legal said they've seen an increase in lawsuits linked to images or information found on social media and mobile devices. And more than one-quarter (27 percent) of respondents reported a rise in cases related to data on personal mobile devices that employees used for work purposes.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing and consulting solutions firm specializing in lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on 200 telephone interviews with lawyers among the largest law firms and companies in the United States.

Lawyers were asked, "In the last two years, have you seen an increase or decrease in litigation or eDiscovery matters that are related to images or information that appeared in social media and mobile devices?" Their responses:                          

Significant increase

18%

Slight increase

34%

Neither an increase nor a decrease

40%

Slight decrease

1%

Significant decrease

0%

Don't know

7%

 

100%

Lawyers were also asked, "In the last two years, have you seen an increase or decrease in litigation or eDiscovery matters that are related to images or information contained on personal mobile devices that your employees use for work purposes?" Their responses:*

Significant increase

8%

Slight increase

19%

Neither an increase nor a decrease

61%

Slight decrease

1%

Significant decrease

0%

Don't know/no answer

12%

 

101%

*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

"With millions of people sharing details about their personal lives and professional activities online, data stored on social media networks and mobile devices are increasingly relevant to litigation," said Charles Volkert, senior district president of Robert Half Legal. "Electronic evidence retrieved during discovery, including emails, tweets, text messages and photos, as well as GPS and web browsing history, is often enough to make or break a case."

Volkert added that as employees increasingly use personal laptops, smartphones and tablets for work-related matters, there are inherent risks to the organization. "Policies regulating the use of mobile devices and social media are an essential component of a corporate security and reputation management program. Guidelines should be regularly reviewed and communicated to employees to protect confidential information and guard against data leaks and cyber threats," he said.

 


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