Facebook Posts As Evidence?


Social media sites like Facebook are great for marketing, and they are also a prime source for evidence. Although the former is generally distinct from the latter, it is yet another reminder that posting personal information online can have more far-reaching implications than a person originally intends.

Should you change your online marketing?

Facebook can be used for marketing, but whether you should change your posts depends on your marketing angle. If you handle ┬ž 1983 claims against the police, linking on your Facebook page to a recent news article about an individual’s claim of police brutality with the comment “those jerks are at it again” might be overkill. More importantly, it is unnecessary.

For marketing, it is good to show some personality, but there is no need to go over the top. Your audience likely knows who you are and what you do—there is no need to beat them over the head with it. In other words, think before you type. It is unlikely that your marketing posts would have any evidentiary value, but it is still worth practicing caution before you post.

What is the evidentiary value of posts?

According to the article, divorce attorneys are the most frequent users of online posts, noting that 81% of members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers say that they have had to deal with or have used evidence from Facebook or other social media sources. Posting about your feelings is relevant in those cases. So are posts about who you associate with, who you were hanging with, and even what you were doing and how much it cost.

In other cases, now that many social media sites are using geo-tagging, posts could be used to show where a person was, or was not, at a certain time. They could be used to establish opportunity or motive. For lawyers who are still unfamiliar with social media, it is time get up to speed—you may be missing out on some important evidence.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Elias says:

    I could not agree more with this article. I work for a firm who specializes in Data Forensic Investigations. More and more, attorneys are calling and asking us to forensically capture information off of social networking sites. It’s a great way for the attorneys to find out what an individual is doing. The amount of cases that are using digital evidence is increasing drastically. Individuals and companies alike have gotten so involved in technology, information and data is plastered everywhere. That works as an advantage for attorneys and lawyers, as they now have new avenues of obtaining information in any case. Data Forensic firms, such as the one I am apart of, have the means and the knowledge of obtaining this information without altering any of the original evidence and within the guidelines of court accepted practices. We also have the means of retrieving deleted documents, emails, user names, passwords, images, AIM conversations, etc. All of which are within the scope of the law and following court accepted procedures. Many lawyers do not know the procedures or have the means to follow the procedures correctly, and although they know the information is valuable, they insist on doing it themselves, which usually ends up with the evidence being dismissed from the case. This is a great article and is a perfect introduction into this area of digital forensics and digital evidence. If anyone would like to speak further about this or has any questions for myself or my firm, please feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn.

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