By: Andres Gomez
Most people nowadays have a social media presence on at least one platform. Injured employees are no exception, and the information gathered on social media profiles can sometimes flip a case in our favor. Here are some tips and tricks that will hopefully facilitate your investigations.
- Check the name – It seems more and more claimants are becoming aware of their social media posts after an accident. While some will make their profile private or deactivate their social media entirely, others are unwilling to give up their social media use and will get creative. Always check for profiles with the claimant’s middle name, maiden name, or both. It is not uncommon to find profiles for the claimants using a variation on their name or a nickname. Be sure to ask whether they go by any other names or nicknames when conducting your recorded interview. We have encountered instances where claimants have been using a nickname unknown to us, their musician name, and other atypical naming conventions.
- Look at emergency contacts – we have encountered instances in which claimants get so creative with their profile names that they will not come up in a search. If they have provided an emergency contact either during the recorded interview or in their medical records, see if you can find that person on social media. If successful, look through their friends and see if the claimant is among them.
- Look at “social media” platforms – Social Media has been defined by different states in different ways, but what it essentially boils down to is a profile that allows the user to befriend others and interact with them on the platform. We often think of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. However, there are others that don’t necessarily look like a conventional social media platform but that may fall under the definition. Venmo and CashApp are prime examples. There have been several instances in which a claimant’s Venmo or CashApp profile has shown a claimant getting paid for different things such as cosmetology services or the sale of goods. Twitch has also become increasingly popular as it is the preferred platform for streamers.
- Retain and authenticate – Finding beneficial information on Social Media is great but how do you use it once you have it? In order for it to be admissible at trial, it must be authenticated. If you obtain social media information, take screenshots and refer the assignment to your preferred investigator, asking them to collect the same information you found by sharing the screen shots. Should it become necessary to use it at trial, the investigator can authenticate the information found.
Always remember that it is never to early to start looking at social media and that periodical check ins can lead to new information!