I Know Where You Were Last Summer: Using More Than Just Facebook to Investigate Pending Claims
In other articles, we have discussed the importance of obtaining social media data in pre-suit investigations and how to conduct social media discovery in pending litigation. As we discussed there, photographs, video and the like information can all be used for evidentiary purposes to demonstrate state of mind, the existence of mental or cognitive disabilities (or the lack thereof) and the level of activity enjoyed by a litigant. In those articles, we have focused primarily on recovering such evidence from Facebook since it is one of the most prevalently used social media platforms and permits users to download (at least arguably) the most helpful data. However, Facebook is not the only source of social media data and any thorough investigation should also involve identifying and requesting photographs, video, status updates or comments from other social media platforms.
In fact, there are a host of other platforms that can provide extremely useful litigation information. For example, Twitter, which is the second largest social media website available, can contain photographs, videos, 140 character to other users known as “tweets” and geo-location to identify the whereabouts of a user when a “tweet” is broadcast. Twitter is primarily used as a messaging system much like texting, but to a broader audience.
Another good source of information is Vine. Vine is a “short-form” video sharing service, with videos that last 6 seconds. Vine has over 40 million users that share in excess of 1 million videos per day. While Vine is “only” the tenth most popular social media website, the information that can be reaped from its pages makes it a must-have in a litigator’s toolbox.
Instagram is also a great website for information mining. Instagram is a social media service where users can post pictures that can be shared publically or privately to friends. If the adage “a picture speaks 1,000 words” is true, then the 100 million monthly Instagram visitors speak enough to fill the shelves in the Library of Congress.
In a similar vein, Flickr is an online photo management and sharing application that is intended to “enable new ways of organizing photos and videos” and broadcasting them to the people who matter most. The efficacy of Flickr content is limited because of a moderating effort that it undertakes. Flickr individual filters the content of its estimated 65 million monthly visitors.
Snapchat is a social media website that allows text, photo, video and drawing messages to be shared to a controlled list of recipients. The content that is sent can be viewed only one time, and is then restricted from future views. However, new applications have allowed for continued review of messages sent. Used mostly by high school and college aged adults, Snapchat can provide useful, and often times salacious content.
Finally, if you are looking to take your social media investigation to the next step (literally) it may be time you learn about Fitbit, UP24, Vivofit and other social health devices. Each of these social media applications are used in association with a worn device that tracks movement, exercise, sleep and the like. The application tracks that information and can be shared among “teammates” or friends that also have those devices. The advent of these health devices could prove to be a powerful next generation tool in uncovering the truth about where your litigant was last summer.
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