Have a fast car? Like to show your friends how fast it goes by posting speedometer selfies on Facebook and other social media sites? You could be in for a rude knock from the Man with a Badge who just wants to ask you a few routine questions — or even worse, a process server looking to Hoover your wallet dry. “Have I said too much?” Yup. That’s what over-posting looks like — when you share incriminating information online that you’ll later regret. So before you publicize that selfie of you thrashing your Ferrari past 180, you might want to consider the risks and consequences of over-posting. It’s time to protect yourself from sharing incriminating content on social media, such as location information (geotagging) that can result in criminal charges or an expensive lawsuit. The Man is watching — and not just in the U.S. As SCM is an international magazine with readers from all over, we start with a CBC News report about a 43-year-old Canadian driver who posted a video on Facebook of himself driving 190 km/h (118 mph) with the caption: “F--king Ford Escape and running from nothing at 190, couldn’t even get 200 outta that f--ker no matter how long I held it down....” The police charged him with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, failing to use his seat belt, and using an electronic device while driving. Meanwhile in Madrid, the Spanish police arrested a man after they saw his Facebook video of him driving 184 km/h (115 mph). Oh yes. There’s more. The video also showed his passenger not wearing his seat belt, and he got cited too. Closer to home, there’s the San Antonio, TX, story of the “Catch Me If You Can” motorcycle thief with three warrants out for his arrest — including one for evading arrest. The Daily Mail reported that the fellow posted a video of himself weaving in and out of rush-hour traffic at more than 100 mph (160 km/h). And yes, the police arrested him based on the video (which, by the way, is absolutely wicked viewing): www.goo.gl/Aanw6G.

That “fun” video is evidence

What may begin as a simple speeding ticket with a minimum fine can suddenly get jacked to the max when an overzealous police officer looks at your Facebook page and shows the judge posts of your boastful high-speed driving — or worse. In one notable instance, Gothamist.com reported the story of an unlicensed 17-year-old who fatally struck a 4-year-old and bragged on Facebook in unrelated posts and in text messages that he cut a four-hour drive in half by traveling 90 mph (144 km/h). While his posts had nothing to do with the child’s death, that kind of evidence would seriously undermine a defense suggesting the death was “just an accident” and not the result of operating a motor vehicle after consciously disregarding a known risk. The prosecutor argued, “He’s done it before.” You can practically insert in your own head, “And he’s doing it again.” Would you like to ring the “guilty” bell or should I?

Insurance companies are next

In the midst of all this, there is some hope, but don’t worry. That glimmer will be crushed in short order. When buying car insurance, your DMV record will hurt you more than your social media postings will. Your insurance agent and their underwriters do not typically poke around social media before issuing a policy — at least not yet. According to Diane Girard, a broker for Durham & Bates Insurance Brokers and Agents in Portland, OR, “Underwriters review your DMV record before agreeing to write coverage, and that impacts both pricing and availability. But they won’t check Facebook prior, unless they have a lot of time on their hands. Most personal auto policies are transaction-based — bam, bam, bam — and pretty electronic. However, if a bad accident occurs, resulting in serious injury or death, then it is likely that an adjustor and/or an auto accident attorney will be digging for additional information.” That last part is the sound of hope dying.

Social media can haunt your life

When you get sued after a bad accident, lawyers routinely ask for downloads of your social media postings in an effort to aggravate damages and demonstrate what a reckless person you are. The New York Times reported how a teenager, strapped to a gurney, with blood running down her forehead, somehow tapped out a message (that went viral), “Lucky to be alive.” Part of the lawsuit accused the teenager of recklessly using Snapchat while driving over 100 mph and slamming into the victim’s vehicle, causing severe injuries. The police don’t need a lawsuit to get access. Police use other tactics to make their way into social media. Sometimes it’s a tip from an angry neighbor (or your ex), or a cop wanna-be who saw your post and drops the dime. Sometimes you posted something so outrageous (and let’s face it, cool), that it gets shared and re-shared until suddenly, oops. When that happens, the police can get access either by subpoena or by your consent. You might naively give the police permission to search your iPhone as part of a traffic stop, quickly exposing your Facebook app, and all your miscreant posts (to say nothing of your photo libraries). For the keys to the castle — messages, photos, videos, wall posts, and location information — in most instances a search warrant is required. Of course, an even easier way of gaining access is just to friend you, or more deceitfully, to friend one of your friends (or your former romantic partners) and just look over his or her shoulder while they browse your page. And no, quickly deleting your social media won’t work, either. Turns out Facebook, at least, is on to that. Facebook can preserve a user’s account for up to 90 days.

Your cell phone is a lie detector

Oh sure, you can go ahead and claim, “Hey, it was track day. That was a private race course. No way I’d go 150 on the Interstate.” The problem is, there’s a lie detector in your digital photos, especially those taken with smartphones such as the iPhone or Android, which capture exposure information simultaneously — including GPS coordinates (geotags). So no, you weren’t on the track, Boy Racer. We know exactly where you were and so do the police. According to Facebook’s Data Policy page, “We collect the content and other information you provide when you use our Services. ...This can include ... the location of a photo or the date a file was created.” If you must stay stuck on stupid and post your outrageous driving, there are ways of preventing geotagging by turning off that feature on your phone. Check out your settings menu and turn off location information. The Internet has lots of tips for your specific phone. Search key: disable geotagging.

Just don’t do it

Finally, showing your speedo pegged at 65 mph in a 55 mph zone isn’t going to draw that much attention from the police (if at all) — as if anyone would post such a boring speed in any event. Even a Camry goes 65. It’s the more egregious violations that could create serious criminal and financial problems for you, especially as the speedo hovers closer to 100 mph or more. So don’t over-post. It’s just a bad idea. As Mark Twain knew so well, “I never regretted a word I didn’t say.” And I might add on his behalf, “or post.” ♦ Kenneth E. Kahn II is an award-winning criminal-defense lawyer and traffic-crimes attorney. Ranked as one of the Top Lawyers in Oregon according to the Legal Network, his practice of over 26 years is located in Portland. www.pdxlaw.net.

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