For the last decade, the advancements in technology have changed how we connect with one another. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have transformed how we share our lives with others.
Although these sites are great for connecting with friends and family or for networking opportunities, information a person posts can be used as evidence in criminal investigations. Law enforcement authorities can use several types of evidence against you in court, including evidence obtained from social media.
While you may believe your personal information on social media sites are protected because you’ve adjusted your privacy settings, this guarantees nothing. Facebook and other platforms actively cooperate with police to reveal “protected” information. Prosecutors also may comb through your online profiles to find evidence of criminal acts or connections with other criminal entities.
The following are some of the ways social media can have a negative impact on your criminal case:
- Photos – Whether you have incriminating pictures on your social media pages or have been tagged in an incriminating photo by another person, these can be used as evidence against you in a criminal case. For example, the state may use pictures of you posing with the handgun used in the commission of the violent crime you’ve been charged with.
- Posts – Whatever you post on social media can also be used against you in a criminal case. For instance, say you post a status telling the public how you wish to cause harm to a certain individual. The following day, the two of you are involved in a physical altercation and you’re arrested and charged with assault. The prosecution can use that social media post against you to show your state of mind, prove you were the aggressor, and even imply that it was a premeditated act of violence.
- Check-ins – Most social media platforms allow users to check-in to a location. However, check-ins can be used by law enforcement to gather evidence about your whereabouts at a particular time. For example, a check-in can be used to show that you were in the area where the crime was committed.
If you are currently under investigation for a criminal offense, it is wise that you void using social media until the case is closed. Additionally, completely deleting your social media accounts can only make you appear guiltier since this type of action can be viewed as an attempt to destroy evidence.