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Social Media in the Courtroom

These days, social media permeates nearly every aspect of life for many adult Americans. In recent years, it has even begun to make its way into the United States court system, as a family attorney Tampa FL trusts can attest. Facebook posts and other means of social media communication can and have been used as evidence in trials—and in a recent Florida Court ruling, one man was even sentenced to 60 days in jail after he “liked” a derogatory post about his ex-wife on Facebook. This ruling has essentially set the precedent that social media users don’t necessarily have to write anything in order to have their social media activity used against them; simply clicking that “like” (or other reaction) button is all it takes.

The Increasing Impact of Social Media in Courts

The Florida Supreme Court ruling is just one of many examples of how social media has been used in court. Social media photos and posts have also been used more often in recent years, especially in personal injury cases. For example, a person injured in an auto accident may be pursuing recovery for lost wages, medical bills, and other damages related to supposed spinal injuries. However, if that same person posts a photo of him or herself surfing or partaking in an otherwise physical activity online, it is likely that the defense in the accident case is going to attempt to use those photos against the “injured” party.

Keeping Up With Changes

One of the greatest challenges faced when using social media in court is the simple fact that social media is a fluid medium; it is constantly changing and evolving, just as our use of it does. And because social media is still relatively new not just to our society but to the courtrooms, it can be challenging for courts and judges across the country to establish and maintain consistency in rulings related to social media. For instance, some courts may tell jurors not to use social media while serving on a case, but some will go as far as to temporarily confiscate jurors’ phones while they’re in the courtroom. Because there are no widespread established rules for social media or even the submission of social media posts as evidence, things remain rather complicated.

Only time will tell the impact that social media will continue to have on the justice system in the United States. However, if recent cases and rulings are any indication, it’s fair to say that social media will continue to be used in new (and potentially surprising) ways in court.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Mckinney Law Group for their insight into social media in the courtroom.



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