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  • Dean Smith

California Supreme Court Grants Use of Private Social Media Posts in Landmark Decision

According to CALI newsgroup, a landmark decision has been made by the California Supreme Court that could drastically change the use of social media in court cases as we know it. Specifically, the ruling allows the defense to obtain PRIVATE postings from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

This is the first time an order of this nature has been enforced in a California court room, as the judge ruled that the private postings and what they contact are justified in the San Francisco trial.

In 2018, “the California Supreme Court ruled that the defense in a gang case could have social media posting that were public at the time of the crime, but that ruling did not deal with private postings.” This new Supreme Court ruling indicates that all postings, public and private, obtained from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter could be reviewed by the lower court judge for a decision on which postings will be given to the defense.

Social media companies have long fought the release of private postings, citing the Stored Communications Act, except in limited circumstances and when forced by law enforcement. This case is no different, as Facebook is currently appealing the San Francisco judge’s ruling, stating, “We believe that federal law prohibits an order requiring us to turn over private Facebook and Instagram account content of crime victims to a defendant and his defense lawyers. We will continue to protect our users’ privacy interests and are considering option in light of the court’s order.”

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have all been subpoenaed in this case to access private, public and deleted social media postings of the victim and prosecution witnesses. If the ruling holds and Facebook does not comply, they may be held in contempt of court.

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