The Philadelphia Bar Association’s Professional Guidance Committee recently addressed the following questions: (1) Whether a lawyer may advise a client to change the privacy settings on a social medial page from public access to a private setting; (2) Whether a lawyer may instruct a client to remove a photo or other content that may be damaging to the client’s case; (3) Whether a lawyer responding to document requests must produce copies of photographs posted by the client, which the lawyer previously viewed, but did not print or download; and (4) Whether a lawyer responding to document requests must produce a copy of a photograph posted by someone other than the client to the client’s social media page, which the lawyer previously viewed, but did not print or download.
The Committee concluded that that an attorney may advise a client to change privacy settings and may also advise the client to remove content, as long as the content is preserved so that it may be produced during litigation. The Committee also concluded that it is not an ethical violation to advise the client to take action that renders the content more difficult to locate if the content is readily available to be produced in the event that the information is relevant and responsive to a discovery request.
You can read the opinion here.
For comments you can go to Legal Ethics in Motion and Professional Liability Matters.