689 Published Cases Involving Social Media Evidence (with full case listing)

The torrent of social media evidence continues to grow. In November 2011 we, at X1 Discovery, searched online legal databases of state and federal court decisions across the United States to identify the number of cases from 2010 and through November 2011 where evidence from social networking sites played a significant role.  As we mentioned then, the numbers exceeded even our high expectations. Recently, we revisited the survey with a little more detail to include results for all of 2011 to be sure we eliminated duplicate entries as well as de minimis entries — defined as cases with merely cursory or passing mentions of social media.

Under these criteria, the more exact number came up to 689 cases. Our raw data and tallying methodology is now public, with the spreadsheet available here, allowing for anyone to review the cases and provide your own analysis. The vast majority of the cases are accessible for free on Google Scholar.  About 5 percent of the listed cases are only available by subscription to Westlaw or LexisNexis.

The search, limited to the top four social networking sites, tallied as follows: MySpace (315 cases), Facebook (304), LinkedIn (39) Twitter (30). Oh, and my colleague Tod Cole insisted that I mention the one Foursquare case. From the detailed review, a significant percentage, if not the majority of the MySpace cases involved criminal matters. Facebook mentions were trending up with MySpace  trending down as cases with more recent facts worked their way through the system.

Criminal matters marked the most common category of cases involving social media evidence, followed by employment related litigation, insurance claims/personal injury, family law and general business litigation (trademark infringement/libel/ unfair competition). As only a very small number of cases involve a published decision that we can access online, it is safe to assume that several thousand, if not tens of thousands more cases involved social media evidence during this time period. Even so, this limited survey is an important data point establishing the ubiquitous nature of social media evidence and the importance of best practices technology to search and collect this data for litigation and compliance requirements.

Get The Latest DFIR News

Join the Forensic Focus newsletter for the best DFIR articles in your inbox every month.

Unsubscribe any time. We respect your privacy - read our privacy policy.



X1 Social Discovery is the first investigative solution specifically designed for the legal and investigative community to effectively addresses social media content.  This solution establishes a defensible chain of custody through several functions. MD5 hash values of individual social media items are calculated upon capture and maintained through export. Automated logging and reports are generated. Key metadata unique to social media streams are captured through deep integration with APIs provided by the leading social media sites. This functionality is provided along with a very scalable workflow and instantaneous search results. Tens of thousands of social media items can be captured per hour and then quickly searched, reviewed and exported in support of a traditional investigative and eDiscovery process. The speed, scalability and ease of use of X1 Social Discovery coupled with its best-practices preservation and chain of custody data capabilities now provides legal and eDiscovery professionals the means to finally address the universe of social media evidence on a very routine basis.

X1 Discovery, Inc. delivers next generation eDiscovery for social media, cloud and the enterprise. Built upon the market leading X1 search solution, X1 Discovery provides a ground-breaking platform for social media eDiscovery and supports investigations of cloud-based data. Learn more at www.x1discovery.com 

2 thoughts on “689 Published Cases Involving Social Media Evidence (with full case listing)”

Leave a Comment

Latest Videos

This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Important: No API Key Entered.

Many features are not available without adding an API Key. Please go to the YouTube Feeds settings page to add an API key after following these instructions.

Latest Articles