Social Media on Trial

Posted in Latest News on 9 Nov 2011

The law and social media have always enjoyed a bit of a love/hate relationship in which 2011 will be the year to remember, as the world witnessed social media's ability to take the 'privacy' out of million pound privacy injunctions and the role it played in tracking down a number of the individuals responsible for chaos and destruction caused by the riots last summer.

The part played by social media within the law took an additional turn when reports were made surrounding the divorce of a couple from Connecticut, North America, who were ordered by their attorneys to hand over their social networking passwords. The demand came after the male party was led to believe that his ex-wife's online activity could prove to be detrimental to her case and her ability to take care of their children.

More recently, the story has emerged of the John Flexman case, in which the executive was forced out of his job for posting his CV on professional networking site Linkedin, an option provided by the site in order to enhance an individual's professional profile. John also ticked the option stating that he was interested in career opportunities. The hearing continues.

If social media is found to be an influential factor towards the overall settlement of such cases then social networking sites may be found at the centre of legal disputes everywhere, playing a huge part in the final outcome of a trial. However to what extent should we allow personal information found on social networking sites to be a persuasive factor in legal affairs? Should legal parties have the authority to use our online activity to determine the outcome of legal matters, bearing in mind that our social networking footprint can be traced years down the line? Or is it simply an invasion into one's privacy and a violation of the policies put in place by such social networking sites?

Wherever your thoughts lie, 2011 has undoubtedly seen the growing presence of social media within the law, influencing decisions and enabling a larger audience to have their say. And with the unprecedented rate at which social media continues to grow, these stories may be the first of many yet to come.

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