Blog article

5 factors determining how social media is used as evidence  

A seemingly harmless comment on social media can have far-reaching consequences. Here are five factors determining if social media records can be used as court evidence or as an FOI response.

Can social media records be used as evidence in court? What about Freedom of Information (FOI) requests? Social media has become an indispensable form of communication, not just in our personal lives but for government and businesses too. So it’s unsurprising that it can be submitted in legal proceedings. We explore the five key factors determining whether a social media record is admissible. 

Can a social media record be considered evidence? 

Generally, yes. Social media content has been and can be used as evidence in Australian courts.  

But its legitimacy as evidence is up for debate. While the limitations of its use vary between states, it can be an essential part of ‘discovery’. 

Consider this – legal proceedings are underway with someone claiming they sustained injuries at a place of business, then photos of them exercising and continuing normal daily activities are found on social media.  

Transparency and context are crucial for FOI requests or evidence.  

What does a social media record need to be considered evidence? 

It comes down to a single word – credibility.  

What then makes a social media record admissible as evidence? 

Here are the five key factors:  

1. Is it genuine? 

The authenticity of the record is essential. 

2. Is it accurate?  

This is about the chain of custody.  

3. Is it relevant? 

The records should relate to the matter in question. If the content is relevant, it is admissible. 

4. Is it complete? 

Contextual information is key. Make sure the record can be effectively interpreted and understood. 

5. Is the original form and structure retained? 

Reading a private message in PDF format can differ from the actual content exchanged. Do you have a secure record of your interactions with customers and the community?  

Social media records must have an adequate level of reliability, making collecting and preserving the record very important. Social media can act in your favour, or against it. So cover yourself – use a reliable archiving tool to ensure credibility.  

A social media archiving solution helps you achieve this. For example, Brolly is a secure software that creates compliant, legally admissible historical records of your social media communications. 

All records captured by Brolly are verified with a digital signature, so you know it has been correctly captured. Whether it’s a post, comment, reply, media, or linked website, the complete conversation (along with the associated metadata) is captured, ensuring you will always have a true and verifiable record to present as evidence or as part of an FOI.