Twitter accounts and Tweets themselves could soon be considered evidence in criminal cases if requested by prosecutors in the future.
Brooklyn, New York writer Malcolm Harris found this out the hard way when a prosecutor requested all of his Tweets from Sept. 5 through the end of last year.
Prosecutors are seeking the information because they claim the Tweets could reveal whether or not Harris knew he was disregarding police orders during last fall’s #Occupy Wall Street protests.
Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr., ruled that prosecutors would need more than just a subpoena in order to get access to Harris’ posts.
Despite the small setback for prosecutors, the case is landmark in the sense it shows that that a person’s Tweets and other online posts can be used against them in criminal proceedings.
Twitter has been fighting the release of information from a private account, but might be on the verge of losing the battle.
The New York Times writes that: “New York courts have yet to specifically address whether a criminal defendant has standing to quash a subpoena issued to a third-party online social networking service,” as written by the judge.
The judge contends that online posts on social networking sites could be admitted into court as evidence much the way bank records can be.