It is rare to find a sector of society which has not been affected in some way by the growing popularity of social media. In the span of a little over a decade platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube have become integral to communication and commerce. While it is easy to think of social media as a fun outlet for personal use, social media posts can have very serious and legal consequences.
A recent example is Adam Bauer, a 19-year old who attends the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Adam received a friend request to an attractive young woman on Facebook who he believed to be a fellow student. Not long after, he received a request to visit a local police station. When he arrived he was shown pictures he had posted on social media of him underage drinking. When he received a ticket, he pled “no contest” and paid a $227 fine. Although Bauer opted to pay the fine, his case as well as several others on campus with him, created controversy over the extent to which social media can be used in a legal setting. While some argue that use of social media like in Bauer’s case is an invasion of privacy, others say that law enforcement must keep up with technology in order to better catch criminals. (Tribune)
While social media is a fun and innovative outlet for personal expression and communication, it is also to be taken seriously as it can have stiff consequences when used improperly.
Some questions you can ask an attorney involving social media are:
- When can police get access to “hidden” records on social media?
- Can my social media updates and check-ins be used as an alibi?
- If my social media friends tag me in a picture where they are participating in illegal activity but I am not, can I still face charges?