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Amy Weisberg

As technology becomes a larger part of everyday life, forensic digital evidence is making its way into the courtroom as well. For the legal team at Weisberg & Weisberg, this should serve as a clear message to be careful about how you use social media.

“There is a false sense of privacy and a false sense of security about what you’re saying on social media,” founding partner Amy Weisberg says.

Whether you are sending messages through Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, posting content to online forums, even using wearable technology such as smart watches, Weisberg says your information can be tracked and used as evidence in court.

“You can subpoena from the hosts of all these different social media forums,” Weisberg says. “Even though people think they’re sending a private message through their Instagram account or through Facebook Messenger, it’s not as private as you think.”

Whatever you do online, it can and will be discovered, Weisberg advises. And that can have serious legal consequences.

Whatever you do online, it can and will be discovered, Weisberg advises. And that can have serious legal consequences.

“I cannot think of a practice area that it has not touched in our office, whether it’s corporate litigation, a real estate issue, or domestic relations,” Weisberg says, “A daily part of our job is getting these computer records and social media accounts.”

And when they do find evidence, it often plays a vital role in affecting the ruling in a case. Weisberg recalls a recent situation in which somebody was seeking a protective order.

“The main piece of evidence was a video that essentially shared an assault that somebody had posted to Facebook,” Weisberg says. “It was going to be a ‘he said/she said’ type of a case, and then the evidence popped up on social media.”

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One of the most common ways that social media and online activity are influencing court decisions is in divorce cases involving infidelity. No matter how careful people think they are being, there are ways to discover (and recover) content that is sent digitally. Whether that is through text or voice messaging or on social media platforms, it is best to assume that all information online is publicly available.

Not only is the information available, but it is also eternal. As Weisberg explains, even if you use a false name or delete content from your social media and hard drives, computer forensic experts can easily recover the data.

“They can track all kinds of things,” Weisberg says. “They can find out what’s been deleted from the hard drive and they can use your IP address to identify your location and connect information back to you.”

Even if you are not actively using social media, Weisberg warns that there are ways that technology such as fitness trackers and other wearable technology can help investigators track and analyze your actions. Even while you sleep.

She describes one unusual case involving a Sleep Number bed that helped investigators gather evidence and prove infidelity.

“They can record your heart rate and activity levels in bed, and they can even track the weight of anyone who has been in the bed,” Weisberg says. “We’ve had cases where an expert comes in and shows that the bed data confirms the adulterous relationship.”

With more technology entering the marketplace every day, Weisberg reminds people that there can be unintended consequences of inviting tech into your life. But there is also hope for the future. Just as technology can be used badly, it can also be a tool for good.

The most important thing to remember is that good or bad, what you do online may soon become public knowledge.

“People have a false sense of anonymity when they are typing behind a screen,” Weisberg says. “If you believe you are communicating to someone in a private way, there is a strong likelihood that it’s not truly private.”

Nathalie Nicole Smith states that working hard and staying true to yourself are sure ways to win in life.

Weisberg & Weisberg offers practical legal guidance to residents in communities throughout Virginia. To learn more and schedule a free consultation, visit