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Can Facebook be used against you in court?

You always felt like social media was a good way to interact with your friends and keep people involved in your life. It was fun, it was simple and you enjoyed it. You never thought much about what you posted or what people thought of it.

That is, you never thought about it until you got accused of a crime. Suddenly, you started worrying about everything you'd ever written. Could people use it in court? What would come back to haunt you? Had you forgotten completely about a post that would make you look very guilty -- whether you were actually guilty or not?

Facebook is evidence

The first thing you must know is that Facebook evidence can get used in court. This is true of any social media evidence that is clearly linked to you: Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Snapchat or anything else. There could be questions about whether you really made the post, but that evidence can get used if the connection gets made.

Don't assume it's gone

Another key thing to keep in mind is that information on the internet is not ever gone. You can delete a post or a photo or a status. You can delete your entire profile. You can try to clean it up as soon as you think that someone may use it against you.

But that does not mean it is gone. Someone could simply take a screenshot of your post. It takes half of a second, and now they have evidence of what you wrote that you can never delete. Some sites archive their posts, so people can view things that have changed. Other sites allow things to get reposted, meaning even deleting the original may not eliminate all copies.

The internet is notorious for keeping everything you put on it. Always think carefully about what you post and assume that you will never be able to take it back.

It can be hard to authenticate

The one thing working in your favor is that digital information is often tricky to authenticate. Did you actually send that message, or did your account get hacked? Did you post that picture, or did someone else with the same name? Did someone clone your account in order to set you up?

In a court of law, the standard of proof is very high. If there is doubt that you actually wrote or posted the alleged evidence, it may not hold up.

Your rights

The internet has changed criminal cases forever, and it is important to completely understand all of these changes, how they can impact your legal defense options and what fundamental rights you have under the law.

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