In a world largely dominated by the influence of social media, it is no surprise we rely on these forums as a quick source of advice. When we need a quick local recommendation, we turn to Facebook. When we want to see if others have had a similar experience to us, we head to our trusty local page to start a bigger conversation.
Social media has provided us with a fantastic medium for quick, thought-out and often reliable advice. But we must start thinking more seriously about the dangers of providing and receiving online advice, particularly when it comes to the law.
Giving advice online
There are significant dangers in providing online legal advice. Only a lawyer may give legal advice to their clients. What we see online is numerous non-lawyers reciting legal information or simply providing their own interpretation of current legislation.
Providing legal advice online can be complicated and can confuse many other people reading, rather than just the person it is intended for. Therefore, your advice or recommendation has a ripple effect, and is subject to a multitude of interpretations.
We understand that people turn to Facebook forums and groups as a safe place to ask impeding questions about their personal situation or about something they have heard. There are many different precautions that must be taken when providing any form of comment or interpretation on forums:
Avoiding the advice
Our general advice would be to avoid posting questions that may lead to legal recommendations or responses. This way, the unwanted legal opinions or advice can be avoided before there is any kind of confusion.
There are of course risks involved in relying on free online legal advice: