Pennsylvania Superior Court Looks to Electronic Media Precedent to Adopt a Standard for Authenticating Social Media Posts

June 1, 2018
Pennsylvania Bar Association

Types : Bylined Articles

This post was co-authored by Michael C. Witsch and Robert H. Bender, associates in the firm’s Business Litigation and Products Liability practice group.

On March 15, 2018, as a matter of first impression, a unanimous panel of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania looked largely to other decisions of that court and to the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence to adopt a standard for authenticating social media posts for use as evidence. In Commonwealth v. Mangel, __ A.3d __ (Pa. Super. 2018), the three judge panel affirmed an Erie County trial court’s decision to bar the introduction of Facebook posts and messages from an account allegedly owned by Tyler Mangel, who had been charged with aggravated and simple assault, as well as harassment, growing out of a fight at a party in 2016. The Court held that the trial court had appropriately looked to the Superior Court’s decision in Commonwealth v. Koch, 39 A.3d 996, 1005 (Pa. Super. 2011), aff’d by an equally divided court, 106 A.3d 705 (Pa. 2014), for guidance and as controlling legal precedent in Pennsylvania for the authentication of electronic communications to hold that such requirements apply to social media posts. The Mangel Court interpreted Koch as requiring a proponent of social media posts as evidence to provide direct or circumstantial evidence that the defendant in fact authored those posts.


To view the article in the June Edition of the Pennslyvania Bar Association’s Pennsylvania Family Lawyer, click here.

The original article is available on our White Collar Alert blog in March.



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