Social Media Expert Witness On Social Networking Investigations Part 1

In Social Networking Research & Investigations, The Legal, Ethical & Evidentiary Issues, social media expert witness Richard B. Harer, V.P. Specialized Investigations writes:

The proliferation of social media sites, and the information they contain, has created a significant “tool” for the legal and investigative industry. With over 400 social media sites currently in existence, and well over 1 billion users, the availability of information on almost anyone and any topic is just a few clicks away. However, one must not only recognize the value, but also the limitations. Many legal, ethical and evidentiary issues have arisen in recent years, perhaps making it one of the fastest evolving areas of law today.

This article will explore some of the research and investigative resources available, as well as some of the issues already raised regarding the information developed, and will continue to raise for years to come.

Social Media: A Required Tool
Social networking sites have become such “standard tools” that Peter Foley, Vice President of claims at American Insurance Association, said that investigators and (legal researchers) could be considered negligent if they didn’t conduct at least “a quick scan of social media to check for contradictions.”

However, Foley and other insurance experts caution that the information should be used only as launch pad for further investigations and never as final proof of fraud. Manulife, citing ongoing legal proceedings, declined to comment on a recent case involving information developed on a social media site that contradicted an insured’s disability claim, but said in a statement, “We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.”

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