Social media is increasingly being used as evidence in criminal cases to convict suspects, but those incidents usually arise when an individual admits to a crime via a platform such as Twitter or Facebook. A recent case in Tennessee signifies the increasing influence of technology over criminal cases, as a man was arrested for “liking” a Facebook post made by a woman who had filed a restraining order against him.
According to RT, a Memphis woman named Towanna Murphy posted a video on Facebook that was “liked” by Thaddeus Matthews. Matthews, a local talk radio host who was formerly involved with Murphy, had a restraining order placed against him by the woman. Murphy took screenshots of her Facebook page and sent them to the police station.
In response to Matthews social media actions, he was arrested and charged with violating a protection order. He was released on a $1,000 bond.
Although the Facebook “like” button seems like an innocuous feature of a social media platform, the feature actually played an integral role in a federal case last year after an employee was fired for not “liking” the campaign page for Hampton, Virginia Sheriff B.J. Roberts. The U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia ultimately found that the “Like” button is covered by the First Amendment and therefore constitutes free speech.
When it comes to restraining orders, however, the “Like” button and other social media actions are viewed differently. According to ABC News, a Massachusetts man was recently jailed for sending a Google Plus invite to his ex-girlfriend, who had filed a restraining order against him.