Authenticating Social Media Evidence

One of my all-time favorite emails was received from a prosecutor who was handling a drug trafficking case. The email included a picture, plucked from what purported to be the defendant’s Facebook page, showing the defendant sitting on a pile of cash (later determined to be $1.6 million!), holding an AK-47. Jeff has written (here) about authenticating photographs from social media sites. But what of the other evidence that is mined from social media—how is that authenticated? A recent Second Circuit case adheres to the line that the relevant standard isn’t particularly high but finds that the prosecution didn’t meet it in this case.

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Authenticating Photographs Taken from Social Media Sites

Suppose that the defendant is charged with a gang-related murder. The State seeks to establish that the defendant is a gang member by introducing a photograph that a detective found on the defendant’s Facebook page. The photograph shows the defendant flashing gang signs. The defendant argues that the picture can’t be authenticated, because digital photographs … Read more