Social media and text messages can be used to document harassment

Harassment and misconduct complaints were filed in court against numerous employees of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Several students alleged that staff members used social media and text messages to post explicit content that was specifically targeted towards them, according to USA Today’s Oshkosh Northwestern.

The students claimed that the use of technology made it impossible for them to avoid harassment by the school’s employees, which included purported digital stalking and alleged inappropriate advances. As a result of the accusations, university investigators reviewed the students’ social media posts and text messages. If investigators determine the allegations are severe enough, they may carry the potential to lead to criminal charges.

Law enforcement may use online messages and postings as evidence

While public platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Snapchat may seem like a convenient way to communicate with a close set of contacts, the prosecution could use materials posted as evidence in court. The general rule of thumb for individuals using social media safely is to not post or send anything that they would not want their employers or unintended viewers to see.

Many students and professionals add friends, clients and associates to an online network such as LinkedIn believing their communications are a private matter between themselves and the friends and associates they are contacting. Whether sharing a post that is only available to the individuals connected to a profile or sending a private chat message, anyone the recipient shares the content with may view it.

Social media apps may reach unintended recipients

Using mobile device apps connected to a social media account or an email program may also widen a message’s reach to an unintended audience. In a criminal case, a subpoena or a search warrant is necessary for law enforcement to view any posts or messages sent through apps, email and phones. However, a defending legal team may challenge evidence gathered without reasonable cause during the discovery process.