December 21, 2017 Articles

Three Steps to Getting a Social Media Posting Admitted at Trial

Opponents may challenge authentication by asserting the possibility that others created a fake account in a person’s name.

By Chelsea Glynn

While the rules surrounding authentication of evidence were created when evidence was still in the form of paper documents, social media postings have become more and more commonly used as evidence as they can capture an accurate snapshot of a person’s prior thoughts or actions. Social media refers to websites such as Facebook and Twitter, through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, messages, and other content; and users “post” this content to these websites. While using this evidence can often be advantageous and produce relevant information, it can create challenges and confusion in applying the authentication rules, which were traditionally created and used for documents created and stored in paper form. However, the steps of admitting a social media post are not materially different from those of traditional evidence and include establishing (1) the social media posting’s relevance, (2) that the exhibit accurately reflects the original social media posting, and (3) that the social media posting is attributable to the purported author.

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