guilty verdicts were handed down in the rape trial of two Steubenville high school football players.There were no winners in this case. A teenage girl lost her innocence, a couple tennage boys are forever branded as sex offenders, and a small town may now be known as that town where a disgusting crime came to light because of the power of social media.
Without social media, it is possible that this case may never have gone to trial. After the New York Times covered this matter last December, the story picked up steam. Subsequently, Anonymous llegedly hacked into the digital accounts of some of those who may have been involved or witnessed the activities surrounding the alleged criminal activity.
YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and text messaging were utilized by those who either witnessed the incident or who may have been involved with the matter. The digital content that came to light shocked and sickened the public and may have helped convict the perpetrators of this crime.
According to ABC News, “[t]he contents of 13 cell phones were analysed, which amounted to 396,270 text messages, 308,586 photos, 940 videos, 3,188 phone calls and 16,422 contacts.” Absent the digital evidence via multipe social media platforms would there have been a guilty verdict? While witness testimony may be persuasive, photos and videos have the ability to become very powerful evidence that may trump eyewitness testimony. Even though this isn’t the first case where social media may have affected the outcome of a trial, it may be a watershed moment for the usage of social media evidence.
The bottom line is that those who want to violate the law should think twice because anyone who has a mobile digital electronic device has the ability to capture the criminal act. Within seconds, people from around the world may become aware of the matter via an online post. Therefore, social media may have the ability to become a deterrent against crime.
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