Hey, judges: Facebook isn’t the devil, it’s the new gossip


In Feb. 2011, I wrote a post highlighting the relationship between social media and legal ethics. More than a year later, there might finally be some judicial guidance coming in a particularly fuzzy area. A three-judge panel in the 3rd District Court of Appeals is about to decide whether a jury foreman who posted Facebook status updates about the trial can be forced to turn over his social media data for the months during which the trial took place.

At its essence, the case is a microcosm of the shift toward social media as a primary form of interpersonal communication in the digital age. The real question that judges — both the ones in this case and judges in general — need to answer is whether free speech and privacy go out the window just because there’s a digital record of many of our conversations.

Jurors have always gossiped

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