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Social Media And Criminal Evidence: What You Need To Know

The vast majority of social media enthusiasts use platforms like Instagram and Facebook to connect with friends and share snippets of everyday life. For some, however, their use of social media has evolved into much more.

Today, social media is readily used by everyone from retailers who want to connect with customers to political activists who wish to enact change in the world. As the use and utility of these platforms broadens, questions are being raised about social media's effect on crime and vice versa.

Why would someone post about criminal activity on social media?

Increasingly, individuals who commit or witness crimes are using social media to comment about what they did or saw. In recent months, comments, photos and videos related to thefts, sexual assaults, beatings and even murders were posted on Facebook.

In some cases, individuals may post evidence about a crime in an attempt to tell their side of the story and to justify or defend against what happened. In doing so, however, these individuals are essentially providing a statement to law enforcement officials and prosecutors without the advice or protection of a defense attorney.

Where are posts related to criminal activities being shared?

The mobile app Snapchat is popular among those who want to share information about criminal activity as the app promises that posts are deleted after a short time and the platform tends to draw a younger audience. Facebook is also frequently used to comment about or even live stream criminal activities. What many Facebook users likely don't know, however, is that Facebook administrators immediately notify law enforcement officials when a post or video is reported as possibly being related to criminal activity. In fact photos, comments and videos posted on Snapchat, Facebook and other social media sites are regularly subpoenaed by law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to use as evidence in criminal cases.

Protecting your best interests

For many people, social media plays an integral role in how they communicate and interact with others. Unfortunately, some social media users fail to realize that the photos, comments and videos they snap, post and live stream can easily be accessed by law enforcement officials and used as evidence to bring charges in a criminal case.

If you are facing criminal charges due to evidence that was discovered on social media, it's important to consult with an attorney who can help ensure that your rights and best interests are protected.

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