Find and Use Social Media Evidence

Litigators want to know how and where to find social media content that may be relevant to their cases.  Privacy advocates wring their hands, but people involved in legal matters as plaintiffs, defendants, government agents, and witnesses are all leaving information across the social parts of the Web, and they’re leaving out in the open for humans and computers to find.  The Ontario Bar Association held a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar on social media and litigation and I spoke on how to find and use the evidence.

Finding is pretty clear cut.  Using, in my paper, is limited to the tools for saving and using it.  I don’t discuss admissibility of evidence although I touch on it briefly in my paper.  My focus tends to be on the information and I left the evidentiary and procedural issues to the experts who discussed them at the seminar.  I also don’t believe (a) in smoking guns or (b) that most of what can be found will actually be used in a courtroom.  But it can still help to triangulate on information that might not have been apparent otherwise.

Privacy comes up a bit because lawyers should not be digging around in private information.  As I’ve noted before in the context of Facebook’s settings, though, privacy on social media sites is often not properly managed and so information that people might not have meant to be public still becomes so.

My paper is below.

David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.