SOCIAL MEDIA IN COURT
A significant part of the young may have two or more social media accounts open at any one time. Whether it is apps for exercising or dating, Facebook or Instagram, we are increasing interacting with each other through technology. We tend to share a lot about our lives on these accounts. We have all tired of the many pictures of our friends’ dinner plates and up to the moment update of their day.
It is therefore not surprising that one can learn a great deal about us and our daily lives may be derived from posts, images and other information such as GPS location can be found on these sites.
It was only a matter of time before the highest court in Maryland had to address the issue. In a recent Court of Appeals opinion, the court was tasked in determining the use of materials derived from social media accounts in criminal prosecutions in three different cases.
The court reviewed the issue so that it could provide guidance on what Maryland Rule 5-901, which provides that the “requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims,” means in terms of social media accounts.
- Question the person who may have created and/or placed the content in the account in question.
- Get the social media company to verify the veracity of the content.
- Search the device such a computer, phone or tablet of the person who allegedly created the account in question.
To read the full opinion go here.
In a famous example of the new role social media can play in a personal injury case, a suit against New York City hinged on Plaintiff’s instagram photos.
In that case, Plaintiff alleged injuries to her legs, but had posted pictures of herself rock climbing on instagram. The Defense did not leave any stone unturned and accessed the instagram photos and made sure Plaintiff did not delete them before they could be retrieved.
The moral of the story is to be aware of you digital foot print. If you are alleging you could not work because of an injury, but you have posts of your self alone or with others doing physically demanding activities then do not be surprised if such information is used to challenge your credibility and limit your recovery.
For years, insurance companies have hired investigators to follow employees out on workers compensation to catch them doing things that they should not be able to do if the injuries claimed were true.
Social media content works the same way except you or your friends posts are the ones that could sink your case.