Fake news. Fake videos. Deep fakes. We have all heard stories of people photoshopping or faking photos to make others look bad or create a scandal. However, an equally disturbing trend is emerging: fake text messages. There are numerous sites and apps available to create fake (but very real-looking) text messages. These tools allow you to customize the carrier name, battery percentage, wi-fi, timestamp, and other aspects of the message to make it look as real.
To paraphrase a familiar saying, a fake text message can go halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on. Therefore, employers should understand that, given the ease with which text messages can be faked, they must proceed cautiously and thoughtfully when dealing with workplace issues that involve text messages. For example, if someone is accused of harassing another employee via text message, an employer should keep in mind that the text message might have been faked, so further questioning and follow-up of the sender and recipient will be needed to ensure that an adequate investigation takes place. Another issue that could arise is someone seeks revenge on another employee and circulates a fake text message to get the other employee disciplined or fired. This new technology creates an additional hurdle that employers must overcome when managing their workplaces and investigating employee misconduct. For more information on social and digital media issues in the workplace or other employment and business law matters, please contact PLDO Partner Brian J. Lamoureux at 401-824-5100 or email bjl@pldolaw.com.

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