During the jury selection process, there’s not a lot of time to determine which potential jurors would be best for your upcoming trial. Some states allow firms to receive a list of potential jurors prior to voir dire – wphen this happens, using social media research can truly prepare lawyers for the process and give them insight to make the most of their time in evaluating potential jurors.
Social media research is invaluable in this respect; by utilizing a social monitoring service, lawyers can easily look to social media conversations to learn more about a potential juror’s prejudices, connections, and knowledge of the trial details. As people have become more inclined to share their thoughts on social sites, this unstructured public data has become useful for more than simply generalized research.
Of course, any social media monitoring program can only capture public facing content; that is, if a user’s Facebook page is only set to show content to “friends”, then what they post will not be able to be collected. However, when people participate in open message boards and forums, respond to blog posts, or have their privacy settings to “public” then gaining insight into their social activities can be effective.
How is this done? A strong social media monitoring program uses a suite of software platforms to provide the most thorough, comprehensive social scan possible. When provided with basic information about potential jurors, social media monitoring scans are set and the following data is collected:
1. A listing of all public facing social sites a potential juror owns
2. A collection of content posted in a public facing social setting over a two-year period; in some cases, accounts that were public and deleted can be picked up when social monitoring tools provide archiving capabilities
3. Alert notification when items are found that may indicate a specific prejudice, connection to a defendant, law enforcement, or plaintiff in the case
Of course, not everyone has a social media footprint, and many are careful with their privacy settings. There are also times in which a person simply won’t have any social content readily available. However, when something significant is uncovered, the importance of using social media data as part of the jury selection process becomes clear.