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Tuesday, 09 January 2018 15:28

WhatsApp and Twitter as evidence in trials

WhatsApp has become one of the most popular messaging systems in the world. Because of its immediacy, scope and simplicity, it was to be expected that this would happen. What perhaps few suspected, is that conversations conducted by that channel, could be presented as evidence in trials.

Nowadays WhatsApp chats can be used to check criminal actions, threats, debts and insults. Although there is no formal electronic evidence, they can be filed in a complaint if they are legitimate and authentic.

In order for WhatsApp to be considered lawful, the person must show that he or she was a transmitter and receiver. If you take the message without authorization and violating the privacy of the other, it will be dismissed. Now, to be guaranteed as genuine, it must be noted that it was not modified. For this, an expert report may be required.


Checking that a chat was kept is very easy, but the same does not happen with the content. Therefore, for a WhatsApp to be assessed as evidence in trials, it is not enough to have images of it. Computer expertise must be done, in order to ensure that it complies with the chain of custody.

The lawyers advise the plaintiffs to present the device to the Court. Thus, the court clerk may lift a certification with a copy of the conversation. Another alternative would be to go before a notary to attest to the truthfulness of the messages and the telephone numbers involved.

In case the defendant does not recognize the facts, it will be he who must prove otherwise. Something that the specialists insist on clarifying, is that this type of tests are not conclusive for any case. In fact, they must be accompanied by other evidence and allegations. Only then can a reasonable verdict be reached.


With Twitter and other social networks something similar happens. However, the publications that reach the courts have to do with intimidation, apology of terrorism and racism. The fact that the tweets are the main source of the situation to be sentenced, makes them admitted as evidence.

The courts themselves have reiterated that the existence of a freedom of expression does not cover this type of action. So forceful they are, that the simple act of retweeting or disclosing, is seen as a fault or crime.

The penalties of insulting or threatening someone through a social network can be severe. In the simplest, the transgressors are forced to upload to the virtual communities the Court's ruling on the infraction.

If the post carries photos, more weight will be at the moment of wanting to check an improper action. In Andalusia, the case of a worker who reported an incapacity due to an accident at work was fired, and she was fired after being seen by Facebook enjoying outings and vacations.

The funny thing about all this is that the judges themselves have helped to clarify what kind of writings or images can be considered as evidence in trials. On several occasions they have mentioned that, if it is true and legal content, it can be estimated. Of course, considering the precautionary measures, for the risks of alteration.

Writings SF Lawyers