Stephen Riden in Lawyers USA on Social Media in Litigation

Stephen Riden is featured in the September 2011 issue of Lawyers USA in an article about the intersection of social media and litigation. The article is by Lawyers USA reporter Correy Stephenson.

The article focuses on the challenges faced by litigants and their attorneys when discoverable evidence is stored on social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter, as well as cloud storage sites like Dropbox. The article is reprinted here.

Social media is implicated “in every kind of case, from corporate espionage all the way down to a fender-bender,” said Stephen D. Riden, a commercial litigator and partner at Beck Reed Riden in Boston.

The article addresses the ever-changing nature of online communications, and the obligations of parties to preserve such material.

Education may be the first step, Riden said.”Parties are typically unwilling to cough up [social media] communications,” he said. “When I inform clients of their obligation to preserve information or explain that it is discoverable, they are surprised — and resistant.”

While clients may understand that things like work e-mails are discoverable, they feel that Facebook “is a personal mode of communication,” Riden said.

In the article, Steve discusses the importance of maintaining the status quo when electronic communications are involved:

To get the importance of preservation across, “I read my clients a variation of the riot act,” Riden said. “I let them know the penalty for deleting things like a Tweet or an IM over Facebook is high and could affect the outcome of the case.”

Riden instructs clients not to delete or change anything on their social media platforms. In one case, he even had a client share his Dropbox password so he could ensure that all the information was being properly preserved.

“I tell my clients that to the extent any communication over any websites pertains to this action, don’t delete anything and keep it as is,” Riden said. “Further, don’t have any future communications about this case, including on these websites.”

Steve Riden frequently writes and speaks about commercial litigation issues, including electronic discovery.

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