The use of social media in the legal system isn’t uncommon.
For instance, social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp serve as alternative means to find evidence. However, SM still can’t be used to accomplish the service of process in Texas and other states, for this one should hire a specialized service.
Social media posts, photos, and profiles are also used as evidence in court. But for the evidence from social apps to be admissible in court, it must be relevant, authentic, and properly obtained.
This article provides five court cases that detail the use of social media information as evidence in the justice system.
Table of Contents
1. Zimmerman vs. Weis Markets Inc.
In the above case, Zimmerman, a former employee of the defendant, sought damages claiming that an injury he got at work had permanently impaired his health.
However, a review of Zimmerman’s MySpace and Facebook accounts revealed that the plaintiff had posted photos of him engaging in bike stunts. The scar from the accident was clearly visible from the images, proving that Zimmerman was in perfect health.
The judge accepted the information as evidence, which further helped prove that the plaintiff’s claims were untrue.
2. Rodney Bradford Case
In this 2019 court case, Rodney Bradford, a 19-year-old teenager, was accused of mugging two people in Brooklyn. Fortunately, the young man’s Facebook status became a solid alibi against the case.
Bradford had updated his Facebook status at 11:49 a.m. on Saturday, stating that he was craving pancakes. Unknown to him, two men were being mugged 12 miles away in Brooklyn at 11:50 a.m.
Despite the teenager insisting that he wasn’t guilty of the crime, he was charged with robbery and sent to New York City Jail.
Fortunately, Bradford’s father discovered his Facebook status update and presented it to the boy’s defense attorney. The court verified that the status, which was written from Harlem, was enough proof that the teenager couldn’t have been at the crime scene.
3. Romano vs. Steelcase Inc.
In this personal injury case, the plaintiff Romano claimed that the injuries she had sustained while at work had led to her confinement in bed.
However, information from her MySpace and Facebook accounts showed otherwise. The photos on her social media platforms showed her enjoying herself away from home.
Although Romano tried to claim that the social media information was private, the court ruled that the information was sufficient enough to be used as evidence in court.
4. Tienda vs. the State of Texas
In this criminal case, the defendant was facing murder charges after a multiple car shootout. The state presented information from Tienda’s social media accounts as evidence to confirm the defendant’s involvement in the shootout.
Although the defendant tried to argue that the Facebook profiles weren’t in his name, the court ruled that the profiles provided had the defendant’s nicknames, photos, and email addresses.
The court further ruled that the circumstantial evidence was too compelling to ignore.
5. Ingrid & Isabel, LLC vs. Baby Be Mine, LLC
In this 2014 court case, I&I had sued Baby Be Mine for selling maternity belly bands under the name ‘Belly Band,’ a name almost similar to I&I’s ‘Bella Band.’
I&I, in a separate action, had also alleged unfair competition and patent infringement from the defendant. The court used information from the two companies’ Facebook and Twitter accounts to rule on the case.
In closing, you should never assume that information you share on your social networking accounts is confidential or private. The above court cases show that courts are now using such information as evidence.