Philadelphia Alleged Gay-Bashing Incident Could Draw Internet Sleuths Into Court

September 18, 2014 4:27 PM

By social media editor Melony Roy

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The flurry of social media activity that helped identify possible suspects in last week’s center city gay-bashing incident might draw some of those Tweeters and Facebook users into the court cases to follow.

A Twitter user by the name of FanSince09 became an Internet hero for helping police track down suspects in Saturday’s beating incident.

But should he and the other Internet sleuths expect to be drawn into a courtroom as the case proceeds?  Local attorney Michael Diamondstein says yes.

“A police officer, if they have probable cause to believe that someone may have evidence or  information about a case,  could go to a judge and have the judge sign a search warrant that would allow that police officer or detective to get computer tweets, stuff from Facebook, or any other social media,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

But is the information obtained during the social media manhunt admissible in court?

“Photographs or statements that individuals  make could be admissible as long as certain evidentiary foundations are taken care of, but it would just depend on the situation and how a prosecutor or police detective was trying to use the information,” Diamondstein explains.

He also says people should realize that everything they do related to a crime investigation could, at some point in time, end up in court.