Social Media Inside the Courtroom

Last week, what Time Magazine has called “the first major murder trial of the social-media age” came to a close with a not-guilty verdict for Casey Anthony, a woman accused of murdering her own two-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie, in 2008. Besides the intensity with which the case was followed online, the case’s very beginnings are found in the social media world. As it was pointed out in Time, the first person to give notice of Caylee Marie’s disappearance was her grandmother, Cindy Anthony, and she did so by way of a MySpace posting that dates to July 3, 2008. In the post Cindy Anthony wrote that her daughter Casey was not allowing her to see Caylee. It would be three more days before Cindy contacted the police about the unknown whereabouts of her granddaughter.

But that’s not where the case’s connection to social media ends. Walter Pacheco, who writes for the Orlando Sentinel, just wrote a piece concerning the Casey Anthony defense team’s innovative use of Twitter, Facebook, and blog postings: use the postings to create a public opinion analysis and refine trial strategy with the findings. Certainly, the analysis was not the only factor to deliver the defense team’s unexpected victory, but the method is now tied to a winning trial.

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