Stephen Riden is featured in the December 2011 issue of Lawyers USA in an article about e-discovery and avoiding the pitfalls of frictionless social media. The article is reprinted here. The article also appeared in the January 9, 2012, issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

The article is by Lawyers USA reporter Correy Stephenson. It focuses on how users of social media sites, like Facebook, may be unwittingly sharing a detailed history of their interests and purchases with other users. While it can be harmless to share songs from Spotify or articles from the Washington Post with Facebook friends, data shared over online social networks — like purchases from Amazon — can be a treasure trove litigants and their attorneys during the discovery phase of a lawsuit.

Stephen describes this so-called “frictionless” media as follows:

‘[It’s t]he idea that people who are connected to Facebook are connected to everything else on the Internet,’ said Stephen D. Riden, a commercial litigator at Beck Reed Riden in Boston. ‘But it also means giving away information. I have several friends that on a daily basis, I know what articles they are reading – it’s a little creepy’

In the article, Steve Riden also talks about Facebook’s Timeline and how access to this level of information can help lawyers, which is not the intention of the typical user:

‘So much of the discovery process is just setting up a timeline and creating a chronology of events, when certain things happened and what was said and done,’ Riden said. ‘Technology that can do that automatically and is almost failsafe makes a lawyer’s job easier.’ The Timeline feature also serves as a reminder that what you do online is never forgotten and does not just disappear, Riden said.

In the article’s conclusion, Stephen notes that individuals who are already involved in litigation should refrain from discussing their circumstances online:

Riden said he warns clients about the ramifications of expressing their frustration with their legal situation online, and suggests that they put it all in a long e-mail which they can send to him. ‘It helps them vent and is protected by the privilege.’

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

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