How to Use Social Media Evidence and Discovery During Litigation

Legal Compliance Resource
November 11, 2013 — 1,131 views  

Social media is a revolutionary new tool that has changed society in many ways. It has found several applications in diverse areas. One of these areas is in the field of dispute resolution or litigation. It has now become possible to use social media as evidence in litigation. There are several factors that must be kept in mind while doing this.

Recording Social Media Evidence

Social Media is often ephemeral. The posts that are made online can be easily deleted or can get lost among the many other posts that are made every day. It is essential to carefully keep a record of everything that is said on social media. The litigators should save all social media messages on their own computers and use it for future reference.

The evidence saved in this manner should be kept private and not revealed to anyone. The evidence can be used in litigation only if it is not tampered with.

Respecting Privacy

Any post that is made online is not always private. The user can set many levels of privacy. Depending on the privacy level set by the user, the evidence may become more difficult to collect. Only if the posts are set to public, is the evidence easy to collect. In all other cases, the amount of evidence that is collected may get reduced due to privacy issues.

It is always best to respect the privacy of the users. Violating their privacy might violate the terms of service of the social media sites. This in turn could attract penalties.

Corroboration and Verification

It helps a lot if the evidence that is collected can be verified by multiple parties. This is possible because most people have multiple friends and followers on most social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. The more the number of witnesses to a particular social media post, the easier it becomes to use it as evidence in court.

It then comes down to persuading the witnesses to depose during litigation in court. As some of them might hesitate in doing so, they must be convinced that it is in their best interests.

Presenting Social Media Evidence

In the course of litigation, the social media evidence can be produced in various ways. Since most courts require written documents, it is best to take a printout of the social media posts that are going to be presented during the litigation. The printed documents should be attested to ensure their authenticity.

The date and time of social media postings should also be recorded. This will help the case during litigation by making it stronger. All evidence should be collected and presented together to make it easier to examine them.

In conclusion, it can be said that social media has already emerged as a powerful tool which can shape our society. It can also be used to settle disputes and can be used as evidence during trials. To do this, the social media posts must be carefully saved, documented and preserved before the litigation starts. This makes it easier to use them as evidence.

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