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Title: Challenging the presumption of reliability of social networking website evidence under US law
Author: Trigkas, Nikolaos
ISNI:       0000 0004 9353 772X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2019
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Some voices of criticism concerning the considerable inconsistency in judges' decisions about the admissibility of social networking website (SNW) evidence have been raised, yet it appears that the scope of the problem remains unknown. A large part of the problem lies in the fact that there are not simply a strict and a loose approach to the admissibility topic, but a wide spectrum of opinions has been developed. Judicial rulings range from the general exclusion of SNW information without considering the particularities of the individual case to its general admission without properly contemplating the principal issue of authorship. In the face of the challenges regarding the authentication of social media sources of information, courts mostly appear to err on the side of admission. It can be theorised that a (rebuttable) presumption of reliability of SNW evidence at the admissibility stage has been established, although there is not settled case law. Electronic evidence, and particularly SNW content, will continue to pose problems for the judge due to its dynamic character, yet some measures can (and should) be taken to minimise their effects. Firstly, this thesis suggests that the proponent of SNW evidence can use expert testimony to support a finding that the item is what she/he claims it is (external approach). Secondly, the thesis recommends that the judge should receive some training in complex scientific issues, including SNW evidence, so that she/he can properly carry out her/his duties (educative approach). Finally, the thesis proposes that the old Federal Rule of Evidence 901 should be revised and moreover a new rule governing the rights and obligations of (social networking) website administrators and users should be created (doctrinal approach). A combination of these approaches can be used to considerably ameliorate the problem of inconsistency in judicial decisions concerning the admissibility of SNW content.
Supervisor: Brown, Abbe Elizabeth Lockhart ; Ross, Margaret L. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social networks ; Electronic evidence ; Admissible evidence