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The internet and social media have become the information hub of this generation. All information is now at our fingertips. This has proven to be a useful development, especially in the legal profession. When it comes to research social media has become a useful tool, but with it comes muddy ethical rules regarding use of social media for research. According LexisNexis Corporate Law Advisory, here are some things to consider.
A paucity of guidance
The ABA offers no clear guidance for conducting social media research within ethical boundaries. Any guidelines may vary by state or apply to a very narrow subject. Another problem lies with the fact that the case law that exists tends to concentrate in narrow subject areas such as divorce, where there has been a rise of using social media research for these types of cases.
An initial step
To make things clearer regarding juror research, the ABA’s Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has said :
Advantages of social media research
You can find photos that help take down opponents. For example for some injury cases, some plaintiffs have posted pictures of themselves doing activities just after the alleged injury occurred. These kind of instances damage their case but help the opponent take them down.
Going about it
You can get information off the internet, but you have to be able to authenticate it in order to use it in court. Normal rules of evidence and authentication still apply. Keep the following in mind:
Avoid the gray areas
Avoid getting into areas of uncertainty. Until the guidelines and rules become clearer it is best to stick to publicly available information.
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