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Maryland Court of Appeals on Social Media Authentication

The Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that social media authentication should be held to a high standard. In Griffin v. State, 419 Md. 343, 363, 364 (2011), the Maryland Court of Appeals found social media evidence must be shown to have not been subject to hacking or other manipulation.

Circumstantial evidence under the reasonable juror standard is not sufficient. Facts in some cases before the Maryland courts indicate that if a user of a social media account has shared her password with other people courts will find there is not sufficient grounds to authenticate the evidence. However, courts have also excepted evidence in situations in which detectives also made use of special software in order to confirm the identity of a person making social media posts.

In Griffin, Maryland Court of Appeals set up a three-factor test:

  1. Did the purported user acknowledge that they created the post?

  2. Does analysis of the computer show that a user of the computer made the post?

  3. Has the social networking site been able to confirm that a particular user made a particular post?

If any one of these three points is confirmed the social media evidence will be authenticated.


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