Social Media: a growing number of court cases

TRI-CITIES - You like to think it's a private device. But what's said and done on your cell phone or on social media could become part of a civil or criminal case. Local prosecutors are handling more cases involving social media as evidence. KEPR takes you inside that growing trend.

You text - you post - you share.
For most, it's an innocent habit.

REPORTER: "how often are you on Facebook?
"All the time," said social media user David Bissell.

Like most, Bissell's aware of privacy settings.
But for some - social media is a venue to stalk, harass or threaten.
Benton County Prosecutors are currently handling several cases involving social media.
Franklin County Prosecutors say the sites could been used to double-check alibi's.

"It's all changing what we deal with in the courtroom," said Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant.

Sharing what you're doing, where you're going, and often times -- how you feel -- is acceptable in the world of social media and cell phone texting. But what's important to know is that even if you set your privacy settings to exclude strangers -- even friends can use information about you posted online in a courtroom.

Juvenile court has dealt with its share, too. Cases involving kids often center around witness intimidation and harrassment on Facebook. The platform can also expose unreported victims. Venting online can sometimes lead to a criminal situation. Just last month in Wapato, it resulted in the lockdown of a school. A high school student Tweeted his feelings about rival fans -- and that was taken as a threat.

"This is an open book society -- how sometimes we're putting all our personal details online," said Sant.

It's not illegal to use information from social media in court. But as technology progresses, prosecutors say privacy restrictions could be implemented.

Stalking online -- or "cyber-stalking" is a gross misdemeanor.