Just because your Facebook page is set for friends to view your posts doesn’t mean that it’s safe from legal scrutiny. Law enforcement can subpoena and gain access to social media sites that you currently consider private. Anyone who thinks that obtaining your information via these web pages isn’t legal needs to re-check the ever evolving privacy policies that can be found tucked away on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and others.
Real-life court cases that used social media to affect the outcome
- Case #1 – A suspected New York gang member charged with murder, weapons, and narcotics crimes. Law enforcement are permitted access to his Facebook page, where they find incriminating posts, pictures, and threats against others.
- Case #2 – Several college students are accused of sexual assault on a female during a party. Images and video posted on Twitter and other social media sites on the night of the party are eventually used against the accused, resulting in their conviction.
A Constitutional Issue?
Contrary to the belief that the contents of one’s social media page are protected by the Fourth Amendment, which shields people’s homes and effects against unreasonable search and seizure, once something has been put online for friends to see, the expectation of privacy has essentially been forfeited. Contact your attorney to understand your rights.
Location Data is Shared Data
Geo-tagging on photos has become more commonplace. Embedded within the code of an image is longitude and latitude data that can tell law enforcement the location in which a photo has been taken. Even if you deactivate this feature on your Smartphone, the social network can track the location by viewing the IP address from which it was originally shared.
Social Media Can Also Work For You
An experienced defense attorney can also use this information to your advantage. Since so many people have taken to documenting their movements online, it may be used to create a reasonable defense in the event that you are accused of a crime.
We are still at the beginning of the social media revolution and the landscape is constantly changing. Look for more headlines and criminal cases to include them in the future.
If you have questions about your legal rights, or ifyou have been arrested,
speak with the experienced attorneys at Bianco and Mansfield
today at 727.843.9399.
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