Social Media Evidence
In the last decade, social media has exploded from a college dorm-room time killer into an omnipresent and all-encompassing billion dollar industry. Check-ins, status updates, comments, and tweets are not just used to tell friends and family what you’re up to on a given day. All of this data that we put out into the world is collected by companies and used to spot trends, interests, opportunities and needs. What a person puts out into the world via social media profiles says a lot about how they are and how they want to be perceived. Unsurprisingly, the pervasiveness of social media has carved out an interesting question in the courtroom: What does my social media profile say about me?
Case law on the admissibility of evidence taken from a person’s social media profiles is evolving, with momentum favoring admissibility as long as the exhibit is properly authenticated. As the line between our actual identities and our on-line personas becomes blurred, statements put out into the world via social media are becoming reliable indicators of a person’s interests, activities, relationships, prejudices, et cetera. Unsurprisingly, these postings are making their way into the courtroom. As the rules of evidence begin to account for where and how social media postings are treated as admissible pieces of evidence, parties to family-law matters should be vigilant about what they post on-line. Always assume that if you post something, anyone can find it and it will be out there forever. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages are commonly used as evidence, especially in a custody dispute, to illustrate (typically negative) traits about a party to an action. A father who checks in at his neighborhood bar every night will have a hard time convincing a Master or Judge that he is a suitable caretaker for his infant son. A mother who posts pictures of drug use to her Instagram page will likely have to submit to a hair-follicle drug screen to prove her claims of sobriety.
This may all sound like common sense, but the prevalence of social media screen shots being used in the courtroom certainly indicates otherwise. As case law and statute evolves to account for this trend, make sure that you aren’t posting anything on your profile that you wouldn’t want to have to explain in court.
To schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys or for further information, call us at LaMonaca Law, at (610) 892-3877.