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Can social media like facebook and twitter be used as evidence in court

Updated on August 18, 2014
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The things people disclose on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter never ceases to amaze me. Many users are all too willing to share the most intimidate details of their life for the whole world to see. In fact, some people share such details because the whole world can see (ex. Alec Baldwin, Kim Kardashian, ect). Well, this is a warning to all social media users---what you post on social media sites MAY be used as evidence in court!


Federal Law

Electronic communication law is a new and developing area of law. The Federal Rules of Procedure were recently amended to address the admissibility of electronic communications in federal court. The new federal ESI law applies to email, websites, word processing files, computer databases, and pretty much anything that can be stored electronically. The law has been interpreted to also apply to instant messaging, voicemails, and blogs. Under the new law, litigants in federal court have a duty to preserve all relevant information found in any of these sources. Any information found in these sources which the judge finds to be relevant to the case will be admitted as evidence.

State Law

Although federal law expressly deals with the various forms of electronic communications, most states lack laws that address this new and prevalent form of communication. But this hasn’t stopped lawyers from trying to get social media evidence in court. In fact, lawyers across the nation have been successful at getting information from social media sites admitted as evidence in a variety of state court cases.

For example, a defendant in a Rhode Island DUI case received a harsher sentence after the judge allowed a photo from Facebook depicting the defendant drinking to be admitted into evidence. In Michigan, the mayor of Detroit was found guilty of perjury after text messages were discovered that proved he had an affair with a subordinate. He was forced to resign as a result. The most shocking example occurred in Milwaukee where a surgeon tweeted minute-by-minute descriptions of a knee operation while he was operating! The moral of these cases is that what you post on the web can and will be used against you in the court of law. Granted, it may be to your advantage….but why take that risk.

Disclaimer

The information in this article is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice. The information provided is not intended to create, and viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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    • profile image

      Fred 2 years ago

      At last! Someone with the insight to solve the prmbelo!

    • profile image

      Roxie 2 years ago

      I came, I read this article, I corudeneq.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      A good admonition: "Roll your tongue 10 times before you speak." To quote the Dalai Lama (approximately) "Sometimes the best answer is no answer."

      With social media, you are out there and exposed. Make it count for you, not for everyone if it is truly something private.

    • Blawger profile image
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      Bahin Ameri 5 years ago from California

      Ytsenoh, you are absolutely right. Its best to look to state law. States are scrambling to pass laws dealing with electronic communication but most haven't kept up with technology. If you can't find a specific law in your state, you must look to what cases in your state have held. This is referred to as case-law. Luckily, there are may state cases that deal with this issue. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

    • ytsenoh profile image

      Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Everybody should be conscientious of what they post on any social media site, communicate in an e-mail, or handwrite into a journal. All of it can be subpoenaed, including access to a hard drive. Being cautious is just practical sense. Any electronic means of communication can be discoverable. I would go by what the rules indicate for each state, not by anything seen on drama television.

    • flagostomos profile image

      flagostomos 5 years ago from Washington, United States

      This is definitely interesting. From watching Judge Judy and the other afternoon courtroom shows, I have seen them uphold text messages and emails before.

    • Blawger profile image
      Author

      Bahin Ameri 5 years ago from California

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

    • Blawger profile image
      Author

      Bahin Ameri 5 years ago from California

      Thanks for always reading my hubs and leaving a comment. I truly appreciate your support.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Social networking is wonderful but you do have to be careful what you post and who you befriend. Not that everyone is a criminal, but it is better to be a positive contributor on sites. Thanks for the information and advice. Voted up!

    • rsynd profile image

      rsynd 5 years ago from United States

      Informative.