In United States v. Vayner, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned a defendant’s conviction for unlawful transfer of a false identification document. This decision was based on the fact that the trial judge erred in permitting the introduction of a Russian social media page that the government told the jury was created by Zhyltsou, without satisfying the authentication requirement of Rule 901 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. More specifically, the three-judge panel determined that “[t]he government did not provide a sufficient basis on which to conclude that the proffered printout was what the government claimed it to be – Zhyltsou’s profile page – and there was thus insufficient evidence to authenticate the VK page and to permit its consideration by the jury.”
This case offers a good discussion on how the federal courts treat the authentication of social media. As some are aware, courts both federal and state struggle with establishing the proper parameters for authenticating evidence related to social media.