You Have The Right to Remain Silent: Thoughts on How Social Media is Changing the Meaning of Privacy in Court

By M.E. Strayhorne

November 27, 2017

“You have the right to remain silent and anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law.” This includes anything you say or do before or after your arrest, depending on the effectiveness of attorneys and at the discretion of the judge when deciding to sustain or overrule any objections to evidence offered in court of your statements and actions.

Your 4th Amendment and 5th Amendment rights are at risk with the decision of this case. Your Twitter and Facebook feeds could be used against you and the outcome of this case speaks to that possibility. (Supreme Court takes on major Fourth Amendment case, accessed 11/29/2017 from CNN via Twitter).

The rules relating to jury selection and sequestration need reform with the advent of the internet and widespread access to social media. Your Twitter feed, your online commentary, your Facebook posts are all searchable. You have limited options to protect your privacy; however, your fourth amendment rights do not always protect any accounts managed by third party providers.

What does this mean? It means your Twitter feed and your Facebook posts can be subpoenaed, if relevant, and used against you in a court of law.

Where does the danger lie? You conduct yourself civilly online, you should be fine.

What happens if you find yourself at the wrong place at the wrong time? Or the unfortunate target of a false allegation of sexual harassment by a disgruntled former lover? Suddenly, your words online can take on a whole new meaning.

As allegations continue to pile up against high profile figures, students of future law and power are watching and learning how to extort, intimidate and threaten.

So, what is the knee jerk response? Self-censorship out of fear. Take a look at this article for more on self-censorship and surveillance.

Our Inevitable Descent into Censorship: A story that begins with surveillance

#censorship #surveillance