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Why social media can hurt you in court

Many people understand the right to remain silent when questioned by Georgia law enforcement. The problem is that when it comes to social media, we are often not silent at all about our personal lives. What people post about themselves, even if it is intended for a small circle of family and friends, can be uncovered by law enforcement and used against a person if that individual ends up charged with a crime.

A piece run on Business Insider explains the trouble a young man got into with a Facebook post. The individual was charged with illegal weapon possession. As it turned out, the male had posted a picture of himself brandishing two firearms on his Facebook account, which countered the defense’s argument that the young man never possessed any weapons before. The photo was posted publicly for all to see, so it was able to be used against the man who posted it.

Social media can be legally troublesome even if people try to restrict their posts to private settings. According to an article on Socialnomics.net, a criminal investigation team may seek and be granted access to a person’s social media account. In some cases, a judge might restrict the access to particular information, but that does not mean that all of a person’s posts and pictures could not be accessed anyway if investigators were given the login information.

At times a person that is criminally charged may insist that their social media posts are private and cannot be used as evidence. However, a judge may not agree with that line of logic. Typically, a judge will conclude that just because media posts are set to private, it is not the same thing as keeping those posts from public view, thus those posts are not truly private. For this reason a judge will insist such posts can be used in criminal and other legal cases.

Great care must be taken when posting personal information online. Even if many social media posters are careful not to photograph themselves in compromising positions and to keep social media posts private, courts still have ways to access social media that people consider to be private.

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