How Can the Court Determine the Authenticity of Social Media Evidence?

Like most people, you probably have a social media presence. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media websites have changed how people interact and conduct business.

If charged with a drug crime, prosecutors will dig for as much evidence as possible against you. The National Law Review suggests that this includes social media evidence. Not everything online is genuine, however. How can the prosecution prove that the evidence is authentic?

Technological safeguard information

When someone submits evidence from your social media, they have to show where they found the information. Sometimes, social media companies may release IP addresses and other records, such as subscriber information, emails and phone numbers. This information can authenticate whether posts belonged to you.

If your social media accounts require you to use unique login credentials or use two-factor authentication, you may have difficulty proving the posts do not belong to you.

Contextual clues about information

The prosecution may ask friends or family members to testify to whether the information sounds like you. For example, the prosecution may compare your tone and writing style to posts submitted to evidence. Additionally, the prosecution may look through photos, friends and locations to confirm whether you made the post.

Sometimes, timestamps or location data can connect a post to a person. Witnesses may also confirm that they spoke to you over a specific account, and if your offline and online activities match with their stories, it may prove the account belongs to you.

If there are admissions or contextual clues about a drug crime on social media, the prosecution may try to use it against you.

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