Several years ago we told you to consider Facebook postings as evidence in legal cases. This is still true, but now there are many more social media platforms to consider. Snapchat in particular has become a fertile source of evidence not to be overlooked.
Snapchat is a photo- and video-messaging app that’s different from other apps in that all photo and video messages on Snapchat (referred to as “snaps”) last for only a short amount of time and then disappear.
In his recent post on Technologist, Casey Sullivan explained that because “much of a Snapchat user’s life is captured and transferred through the app, it has become an important source of evidence.”
Indeed, two people were convicted of a sexual assault after they recorded the attack on Snapchat. Jurors were shown screenshots from the Snapchat video during the trial.
high speed car crash Snapchat’s speed filter, which lets users show how fast they’re going while taking a photo, was used as evidence in a case involving a high speed car crash. Plaintiffs sued both the driver and Snapchat, arguing that the speed filter encourages reckless driving and can cause crashes. Snapchat’s speed filter also may have played a role a car crash that killed three young women.
And in an extremely macabre instance, a teen posted a Snapchap selfie with a murder victim and it became key evidence against him in his murder trial.
It’s easy to imagine a myriad of cases in which Snapchat can be used as evidence. As Casey Sullivan put it, “[p]ersonal injury lawyers, divorce attorneys, criminal defense attorneys, and more could all benefit from evidence found through Snapchat.”
And the ephemeral nature of pictures on Snapchat isn’t necessarily a problem. Sullivan explains that some Snapchat evidence is retained when users take screenshots of snaps and “Snapchat itself keeps logs of previous snaps.” But even deleted snaps don’t necessarily disappear; digital forensics experts can still pull them from the phone.
Now that you know to look at Snapchat for evidence, would you be able to get it admitted at trial? To learn how to get social media evidence admitted, including the key hurdle of authentication, turn to CEB’s Effective Introduction of Evidence in California, chap 54.