Social Media InvestigationsLearn to improve the appearance and authenticity of your social media evidence.
Social Media as Evidence
Even though modern social media platforms haven’t been around for multiple decades like the internet, the growing use and dependency on them mean that there is already an incredible amount of content housed within them. The average person might not think about it, but a legal professional needing to document comments or even photo albums as evidence for a case might be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the social realm.
First, what is social media evidence?
New to law or haven’t needed to collect social media evidence before? The term “social media evidence” simply means any data housed within a social platform, like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, that needs to be preserved to support litigation.
Who should care about this?
Typically, we see social media evidence in relation to cases involving copyright, trademark and patent infringement, personal injury, employment and family law. But really, any legal professional should be aware of basic guidelines as it’s most likely to come up in the future.
Where and what should you look for?
There are a number of social platforms that exist online. However, there are some popular ones that would be a great place to start your social media investigation.
Now, evidence can be found in many places on these social platforms. Comments, replies, and even videos and photo albums that people post can be used as admissible online evidence. Professional webpage capture tools make it simple to archive tweets or other social posts, print pictures and capture an entire scrolling screen of a social profile.
You found content to document. Now what?
As soon as you find data to collect, you’ll want to capture it and store it in a secure place. Building a personal webpage archive with an organized naming convention is a best practice to follow.
But, ensuring admissible social media evidence is another thing you want to make sure you get right. Here are a few things to take into consideration:
- Appearance – accurately portraying what you see on the screen and printing a professional-looking hard copy is an important first step.
- Metadata – validating that the webpage existed online by documenting the timestamp, such as the URL, IP address, date and time, will only further strengthen your evidence.
- Digital chain of custody – removing yourself from the evidence can make your life easier in the long run. Having a trusted, third-party webpage capture tool do the work is ideal. And, the option to even further support your evidence with an affidavit is a big bonus!
By remembering these few tips, you’ll lessen the risk of your social media evidence being questioned or thrown out.