Use of Social Media Laws in a Court Case
Popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be an easy way to share your thoughts and photos with friends and family. However married couples who are going through marital hardships and are involved in extramarital affairs are at risk. Your Facebook profile is an open source for people to comment, like or share negative feelings about you on your profile. Be careful what you post or tweet as this can also lead to a lot of incriminating evidence if you are in the middle of a divorce. If your girlfriend or mistress decides to post something on your Facebook page and your spouse happens to see it you will have a lot of explaining to do. These social sites and others have become an easy source that can prove adulterous behavior. Once the post or tweet is sent, it will forever live on a server somewhere even after deleting it. The posts can also be printed from the website as well. Every case is different, however with increased frequency, social media users are finding out that what they post may be used against them in the court of law.
The internet presents a special set of challenges to the legal field, and because of this, most laws regarding the social media are narrowly defined. With the rising rates of online crime and disagreements, legislators have had to keep passing new laws and amending the existing ones. The following are some of the cases that find their way in courts often and how they are approached:
A social media account is considered private if access to its password is limited to a person or a specific group of people. Gaining access to such an account without the consent of the authorized persons is considered to be an interference with privacy.
In the US, the major problem a while back had been with companies forcing their workers to provide their social media passwords as a condition for employment. Almost all states now prohibit firms from making such demands and allow the victim to file for damages.
It is however important to note that companies that have their in-house social media platforms can access their employee information on these platforms provided they clearly inform their workers about this in their terms and conditions. The same applies to educational institutions.
Copyrighted content is not supposed to be shared on social media without consent of the copyright owner. On popular platforms like Facebook, this rule is frequently ignored and the culprits always get away with it; but posting or downloading unauthorized content may lead to a conviction if the property owner decides to follow up.
An individual can be found guilty of copyright infringement even if they themselves do not post or share the content in question. Fortunately, before one is taken to court for content infringement, the owner must first send a warning and demand the user to remove the content within a reasonable period. Only after they are sure that the person has received the message but has refused to comply can they go to court.
Defamation and trolling
Defamation is the act of making unfounded statements that may damage the reputation of an institution or individual. Trolling has been given various definitions in different jurisdictions; it however has to do with online harassment of a person either through public comment sections or via private messages. Both defamation and trolling carry punishments if one is convicted. Like other cases, the complainant must file an official court complaint against the suspect.
Because of the fragile nature of social media laws, very few cases ever result in convictions. Complainants raise their chances of successful lawsuits if they seek representation from attorneys that have special training in social media laws. Similarly, if you ever find yourself in trouble for misusing social media, get a qualified attorney to secure your best interests.
Employers who are found violating the law regarding access of employees’ social media accounts may attract a civil penalty. An employer may have the need to access employees’ personal social media accounts, but then again, it is important to determine if such employer is permitted to do so in their state.
By George C. Malonis