Social Media and Trials


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  • cases usually involve a celebrity or a defendant that gains celebrity status because of publicity.
  •,16641,19940627,00.htmltension between the First Amendment’s protection of free press and the Sixth Amendment’s protection of a public and fair trial “The media coverage of OJ Simpson’s arrest was a top news story from June of 1994 to October of 1995” fear is that if jurors are exposed to extensive pre-trial publicity, they may not fairly judge the trial. However, simply the knowledge of a person’s arrest can predispose public opinion to believe the defendant is guilty
  • is that if jurors are exposed to extensive pre-trial publicity, they may not fairly judge the trial. However, simply the knowledge of a person’s arrest can predispose public opinion to believe the defendant is guilty
  • offenders are a rarity and become more newsworthy simply because of their sex. Women are categorized as either sexually promiscuous or sexually inexperienced Women’s sexual preferences or their enjoyment of sex has long been used by the media to “demonize them and justify the construction of their actions”Women are categorized as either sexually promiscuous or sexually inexperiencedCasey Anthony was female and she was an attractive female. The media often portrayed her as a “party animal” by showing photos of a scantily clad Casey Anthony dancing at a club. Sarah Projansky, a professor of Gender and Women’s studies and Media and Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois stated, “if Anthony were a man, we would likely not be hearing about his appearance, we would likely not know of him at all” We have a natural instinct to protect children and find it hard to accept bad things happening to them when it could have been controlled
  • The first social media posting about the case occurred in July 3, 2008 by none other than Casey Anthony’s mother. Cindy Anthony posted a distraught message on MySpace that day saying that “her daughter had stolen lots of money and wasn’t allowing her to see her granddaughter”
  •!/ninthcircuitflThe latest news as well as the most reliable news from the courtroom during Anthony’s trial came from a Twitter account, @NinthCircuitFL. This account is managed by the 9th Judicial Circuit Court and has about 400 followers (Cloud, 2011). This is the first court to deliver news to the public through Twitter. This court was also the first in the U.S. to use DNA evidence in a 1987 rape case, so it is not surprising that they are the first to tap into social media (Cloud, 2011).
  • In 2007, the year Knox was taken into custody was also when social media exploded in popularity. YouTube became the source to upload personal videos and Facebook became the source to upload personal photos (Hull, 2011). Before social media, it would have been difficult to obtain this private information, but now the public is exposed to almost everything about the lives of the suspects. She was portrayed by the Italian media as a “sex-crazed young woman” and had alleged “obsessions with sex, witchcraft and drugs,”#AmandaKnox became a trending topic on Twitter as the trial continued on and Facebook groups such as “Free Amanda Knox” became popular.
  • The Telegraph, had correspondent Nick Squires in Italy during the trial. He kept the public informed through Twitter and a live blog. The live updates and in-court tweets blew up the #AmandaKnox hash tag (Vreeland, 2011).When the verdict was announced at her appeals case, Twitter exploded with reactions. Some were outraged, and some were very supportive. CNN deemed Amanda Knox as a “pop culture obsession” (Fantz, 2011). Even with the news constantly changing, Amanda Knox didn’t fall out of Google’s trending topics after she was acquitted. An amazing feat since the news is constantly changing (Fantz, 2011).
  • Whether or not social media played a role in the actual outcomes of the trials still remains unclear, but the fact that it does have influence still remains. Social Media, cable television and the constant exposure to news has made finding unbiased juries for high-profile cases very difficult.Social media allowed people to voice their opinions about both women. Ironically, even though these women both had the same outcome to their trials, one was liked by the American public and one was hated. More people felt sympathy for Amanda Knox because they believed her to be an innocent trapped in a foreign judicial system. However, the majority of the public hated Casey Anthony because her trial involved the murder of a 2-year-old child. Both are very different cases, but had the same outcome.
  • Social Media and Trials

    1. 1. Social Media and High- Profile Trials Stephanie Olsen
    2. 2. Perfect Mix celebrity defendant famous lawyers race and gender aspects live coverage of the courtroom
    3. 3. OJ Simpson Jury None regularly read aSex Men newspaper, but eight Women regularly watch tabloid TV shows 0 5 10 15
    4. 4. Women Defenders and Public Opinion Women are a rarity Persecuted in the media more harshly then men Usually portrayed as the Virgin or the Whore Mothers are persecuted harshly
    5. 5. First Social Media Post “Daughter who stole money, lots of money and doesn’t her mother now speak to the baby that her mother raised”
    6. 6. @NinthCircuitFLLive Twitter stream gave outsiders access to the trial
    7. 7. Guilty Before Proven Innocent2007- Social Mediaexploded in popularityItalian press painted anegative image
    8. 8. Tweets from the Courtroom
    9. 9. Is Social Media a Problem? • Make Jury Selection Difficult • Defendants have to appeal to two courts • No Direct Link to Verdicts
    10. 10. Sources(2011) Amanda Knox Free: Twitter reactions to Appeals Verdict. Huffington Post. Retrieved from, W. J., Duane, J. J., Fraser, B. P. (1997). Media coverage and public opinion of the O.J. Simpson Trial: Implications forthe criminal justice system. Communication Law and Policy.Cloud, J. (2011). How the Casey Anthony Murder Case Became the Social-Media Trial of the Century. Retrieved from,8599,2077969,00.html.CNN Wire Staff. (2011). Timeline: Amanda Knox Trial. CNN. Retrieved from, A. (2011). No End to Knox as a Pop Culture Obsession. CNN World. Retrieved from, R. L., Sickel, R. W., &Steiger, T. L. (2007). Tabloid justice: criminal justice in an age of media frenzy (2. ed.). Boulder:Lynne Rienner Publishers.Gabriel, R. (2011). American Justice or American Idol? Two Trial and Two Verdicts in the Casey Anthony Case. Retrieved from, S.A. (2011). Casey Anthony and the Media Coverage of her Appearance. The Washington Post. Retrieved from, S. (2011). Amanda Knox Verdict: How Facebook and YouTube Created Foxy Knoxy. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from, Y. (2011). Media and Crime. London: SAGE.
    11. 11. Sources Continued…Jewkes, Y. (Ed.) (2009). Crime and Media. Los Angeles: SAGE.Mitchell, A., Purcell, K., Rainie, L. &Rosenstiel, T. (2011). Part 5: The role of the Internet. PewInternet. Retrieved from, July 5). Social Media’s Influence on the Casey Anthony Trial. Retrieved from, M. (2011). Five Trials by Media., E. (2011). LIVE: Amanda Knox Verdict- Reports Live from the Courtroom via Twitter. Hudson Horizons. Retrieved from 3: 4:,16641,19940627,00.htmlSlide 5: 6: 7: 8:!/ninthcircuitflSlide 9:,,20533992,00.htmlSlide 10:!/NickSquires1