How the Court Authenticates Social Media Evidence

man on virtual screen

It is a world of social media that we live in, or that is how it sometimes seems. The fact is that, when it comes to evidence in criminal cases, social media can play an important role. For example, it can help bolster or debunk an alibi and much more. All of this, however, begs the question regarding how these posts are authenticated (when virtually anyone’s account can be hacked or otherwise commandeered). If you are facing a criminal charge, it is wise to understand how evidence culled from social media is authenticated. Discuss your concerns with an experienced Lampasas County criminal defense attorney today.

The National Law Review Discusses the Matter

The National Law Review shares all the following about the use of social media in criminal cases:

  • Just as social media affects the way we shop, dine, workout, vote, and connect, it has become an important feature of modern trial practice.

  • Social media is right at our fingertips 24/7 with the tap of a smartphone, which the Supreme Court recently referred to as almost a feature of human anatomy.

  • Hyperbole aside, social media is readily available, and social media offers a deeper well of courtroom evidence than we ever imagined possible.

  • The flipside to all this unique availability is that evidence culled from social media is also uniquely vulnerable to falsification of one form or another.

Technological Safeguards

When evidence from social media is presented to the court, proof of where the information was found must be provided. When it comes to legal matters, social media companies will sometimes release relevant IP addresses and other important information (but there are not clear protocols in place, which make this an iffy proposition). While this kind of information can generally authenticate whether or not the post in question came from the source’s device, it cannot determine who actually wrote or sent the post.

Further, it is virtually impossible for the law and for social media entities themselves to stay abreast of the innovative ways hackers dream up to alter, take over, or otherwise fool around with the authenticity of online offerings. If, however, your own social media accounts require you to use two-factor authentication, it can make distancing yourself from posts more challenging.

Using Your Context Clues

Ultimately evidence is only as good as its credibility, and whether the prosecution or your defense is turning to social media to cull evidence, they will be looking for contextual clues to back the information up. For example, friends, family members, and/or work acquaintances may be asked to weigh in on the tone and voice of a particular post (to help verify whether or not it likely originated from you) or on the veracity of posted photos (from the perspective of their unique experience with you).

It Is Time to Consult with an Experienced Lampasas County Criminal Defense Attorney

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Lampasas County, Texas, is a formidable criminal defense attorney who recognizes the gravity of your situation and is standing by to help. To learn more, please do not wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.
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