The rise of social media usage over the last few years has gone largely unchecked but there are signs that the tide is turning.
The big platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are under increasing pressure from governments and the public, to tackle misuse, whether from terrorist organisations or from ‘trolls’ who believe they can say what they think without consequences.
Now, a new survey of lawyers reveals that they are seeing more cases where social media is a key part of the evidence.
The poll by Robert Half Legal found that 18% of lawyers reported a ‘significant increase’ in matters related to images or information on social media; a further 34% reported a ‘slight increase’.
“With millions of people sharing details about their personal lives and professional activities online, data stored on social media networks and mobile devices are increasingly relevant to litigation,” said Charles Volkert, senior district president of Robert Half Legal. “Electronic evidence retrieved during discovery, including emails, tweets, text messages and photos, as well as GPS and web browsing history, is often enough to make or break a case.”
We all like to imagine that we have free speech but even if that was true from a legal perspective, morally that would be wrong. We all have occasion to refrain from saying something or using ‘white lies’ to spare the feelings of others.
For those that go too far on social media, it is right that they are accountable for their actions.
Speakers appearing at events or writing in newspapers do so with the knowledge that their free speech is directly attributable to them; they are responsible for their own words. Those on social media should be subject to the same scrutiny.