Social Media Authentication - Maryland v. Texas
There are two widely recognized approaches to the authentication of social media evidence. The Maryland approach requires that the creator of a social media post testify as to its authenticity; evidence be presented that is collected from the hard drive or internet history of the creator of the social media post; or the information on the social media evidence is obtained directly from the social media company itself. In Texas there is a lower standard simply requiring that the court hold that a reasonable jury could find that the evidence is authenticate.
However when a close look is taken at the facts in each case, it's hard to say that the Maryland and Texan courts really diverged as much as it might appear.
The former approach was endorsed by the Maryland Court of Appeals in Griffin v. State, 19 A.3d 415 (Md. 2011) . This case focused mainly on a single MySpace posting that made a threat against a witness in a criminal case. The State had the main police officer in charge of the invesigation authenticate the MySpace pages. Only a birth date and photo linked the MySpace page to the woman who allegedly made the threat. The trial court acknowledged that the evidence was 'weak'. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas in Tienda v. State, 358 S.W.3d 633 (Tex. Crim. App. 2012) also issued a ruling on evidence from a MySpace page. [Didn't everyone stop using MySpace 10 years ago?] In the Texas case the jury was asked to consider three MySpace accounts that had elements in common (including references to smiley faces) and postings that had images of the appellant's gang tattoos, an ankle monitor that he had been wearing for a year, and references to private events which it was believed the appellant had personal knowledge. The Court concluded that the postings could only have been faked by an "elaborate and ongoing conspiracy"