Authenticity and Admissibility of Social Media Website Printouts

By: Wendy Angus-Anderson

Social media posts and photographs are increasingly denied admission as evidence in criminal trials. Courts often cite issues with authentication when refusing to admit social media evidence. Cases and academic writings separate recent case law into two approaches: The Maryland Approach and the Texas Approach. The first method is often seen as overly skeptical of social media evidence, setting the bar too high for admissibility. The second approach is viewed as more lenient, declaring that any reasonable evidence should be admitted in order for a jury to weigh its sufficiency. This Brief addresses the supposed differences between the two sets of cases and suggests that courts are not actually employing two distinct approaches. The Maryland Approach courts are not holding social media content to a higher standard than the Texas Approach courts, but are merely responding to a lack of evidence connecting the proffered content to the purported author.

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Cite: 14 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 33

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