Social networking sites are now being used as a way to determine alibis for potential defendants. For example, Rodney Bradford was arrested and held for twelve days on suspicion of robbing two people in a Brooklyn public housing complex. However, the prosecution dropped the charges after Facebook verified that Bradford had posted a message on his Facebook page one minute before the robbery occurred, presumably from another part of the city.
Social networking sites also have been used as platforms for jury selection (see, for example, here and here) and for discovery and legal research.
In short, social networking presents a number of opportunities and challenges for lawyers and judges. For an example of the latter, consider the recently noted problem of jurors using online posts to announce or receive information about pending cases. Such posts may help to reveal a juror’s bias, or prompt a reversal if it turns out that juror has used online sources to undertake his or her own independent investigation of the case.
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