eDiscovery Trends: Think Before You Hit Send

By: Doug Austin

It’s not the only instance of a one character typo possibly ending a career; instead, it may simply be the latest.

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’re probably aware of the “Twittergate” story involving Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), where he initially claimed that a lewd photo posted via Twitter was posted by a hacker to his account, then subsequently admitted this past Monday that he, in fact, posted that picture.  Many are calling for him to resign from his Congressional position after posting the picture, as well as sending other pictures, which have since been identified.  (If you have been living under a rock, you can click here for more on the story).

The irony is that a one-letter typo may turn out to be his undoing.  Weiner intended to send the “tweet” as a direct message to another Twitter user, but used the ‘@’ instead of the ‘d’ (to indicate a direct message) to reference that user.  As a result, the message was published to all his followers, not just the intended party.  In fairness, even if he had sent the direct message correctly, he used a public photo sharing service, yFrog, to share the photo, so anyone that chose to browse through all of his photos would have still seen the controversial photo.

It is easier to communicate than ever, with a myriad of options from which to choose, including voice, video, email, posts, texts and “tweets”.  Perhaps, it’s becoming too easy.  Courthouses are filled with cases where “informal” communications are key evidence in determining the outcome of the case.  The formal typed letter has given way to the informal media of email to the even more informal media of posts, texts and “tweets”.  Now, just as important as the adage “think before you speak” is the adage “think before you hit send”.

We’ve all been there, hopefully with much less disastrous consequences.  If you’ve never selected ‘Reply to All’ by accident instead of ‘Reply’ when intending to reply to only the sender, please call me and let me know your secret.  Or, maybe, you’ve sent an email when upset that you regretted later.  Once released, those mistakes are out there and are difficult (if not impossible) to recall.

If you’re not in the habit of doing so already, it’s a good idea to take a deep breath before each email sent or each post made and review what you’re about to send out into the world.  Think before you hit send.  If you don’t, you just might be the topic on a future ‘eDiscovery Case Law’ post on eDiscoveryDaily!  😉

So, what do you think?  Do you have any cases that are driven by informal communications?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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About the Bloggers

Brad Jenkins

Brad Jenkins, President and CEO of CloudNine Discovery, has over 20 years of experience leading customer focused companies in the litigation support arena. Brad has authored many articles on litigation support issues, and has spoken before national audiences on document management practices and solutions.

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Doug Austin

Doug Austin, Professional Services Manager for CloudNine Discovery, has over 20 years experience providing legal technology consulting and technical project management services to numerous commercial and government clients. Doug has also authored several articles on eDiscovery best practices.

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Jane Gennarelli

Jane Gennarelli is a principal of Magellan’s Law Corporation and has been assisting litigators in effectively handling discovery materials for over 30 years. She authored the company’s Best Practices in a Box™ content product and assists firms in applying technology to document handling tasks. She is a known expert and often does webinars and presentations for litigation support professionals around the country. Jane can be reached by email at jane@litigationbestpractices.com.

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