Our lives are being increasingly altered by the rise of social media. Our modern society uses social media to communicate, share important thoughts or concerns, and follow celebrities and organizations.
It has both streamlined and changed our access to one another, hiding some parts of our personalities behind a digital persona and taking formerly private matters into the public sphere. One area that has been impacted by this shift has been the criminal justice system.
How Crucial Is Digital Evidence?
The impact of social media on criminal investigations has been rapid and raises questions about the scope and validity of the available data. As Vice reports, modern criminal cases have been incorporating social media postings for years.
Originally this was a rare incident that required explanation to a jury. But the use of social media evidence has become unavoidable in a growing number of cases, especially with the prevalence of selfies and other posts that appear to contain threats, confessions, or other incriminating evidence on sites like Reddit and Facebook. Lawyers and judges today have had to keep up with changing trends and platforms online just to understand where a piece of evidence is coming from and how reliable it may be.
The larger problem arises when the validity of these posts comes into question. A user on Reddit thought to be Ager Hasan, who was wanted at the time for the murder of his former girlfriend, appeared to confess to the crime in detail. Despite the similarities between the post and crime, it was never publicly confirmed to have come from Hasan.
Facebook accounts can be imitated, which makes it harder to verify the source of incriminating evidence. This is all complicated even further by the way social media encourages the public to interact with accused individuals and potential evidence.
People following Ager Hasan’s case commented on his Instagram page encouraging him to turn himself in. The nature of social media today, where celebrities have established a certain degree of accessibility to the public, has contributed to an expectation that any person of interest is open to public comment.
This accessibility is actively utilized by some individuals, such as Amanda Taylor, who posted a selfie of herself with a bloody knife and the body of her murdered father-in-law.
It is important to understand how our posts impact not only our public image, but also any cases that may involve us or those we care about.
If you are involved in a criminal investigation, you need a lawyer who knows how to help you navigate what to share and how to use any available information that will help your case. Contact us today to learn how we can help.