Tweets as Evidence: Authenticating and Admitting Twitter Tweets and Facebook Pokes

The State Bar of Texas has been offering continuing legal education for awhile now on how attorneys can use tweets as evidence.  That's right: the 140 character tweets (or retweets) that millions are publishing on Twitter 24/7, and sharing with more and more followers, will be appearing in the future as evidence for jurors to consider in their deliberations.

Next month, a replay is being offered by the Texas Bar of a Summer 2010 presentation entitled "Authenticating Tweets: Use and Admission of Social Networking Evidence," where attorney John Browning of Dallas shared with his fellow Texas lawyers all about not only authenticating tweets but getting them admitted into evidence under both state and federal law.  (Of course, we all know that authentication and admission are two different hurdles ....)

2012 UPDATE:  See my article in Florida Defender, "Twitter at Trial: Tweets and Messages as Evidence 2011"  which includes discussion of evidentiary rules and issues of admissibility and authentication.

It also looks like Mr. Browning will be covering more than just Twitter - the outline of his speech references Facebook pokes, as well as a general discussion of social media as fodder for discovery and evidence in civil cases.  He should know: John Browning has also written a book on the legal ramifications of social media entitled The Lawyer's Guide to Social Networking: Understanding Social Media's Impact on the Law published by West in December 2010.

Of course, this isn't news to some.  Paris Hilton faced having her tweets used by Las Vegas prosecutors in the drug charges she faced last year.  But then again, Paris Hilton is always trendy right?

For more on authentication and admissibility of social media:

  1. New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer - using tweets, Facebook pix in NJ criminal trials
  2. South Carolina Family Law Blog - using social media in family law cases
  3. U.S. Department of Justice  - Directives on use of socia media in the courtroom