Essay on Twitter's Effects in the Judicial System

Essay on Twitter's Effects in the Judicial System

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The popular microblogging platform Twitter has had a major impact on society and the manner in which people interact with each other. It has grown from a social networking site to a potential emergency alert system as well as a platform to quickly disperse links to breaking news stories and videos, and, finally, as a way to document court proceedings (Pocklington). Twitter has been used as a news dispersal method in many major trials since its creation in 2006, including but not limited to: Jodi Arias’ murder trial, Casey Anthony’s trial, and George Zimmerman’s murder trial. While a journalist’s job description includes the obligation to report findings in an unbiased manner, the increased use of Twitter may not allow for such neutrality. The 140-character limit that Twitter imposes could potentially impede a journalist’s ability to use neutral vocabulary, or a journalist could intentionally choose words with certain connotations in order to gain “retweets” and “favorites,” thus increasing the number of followers he or she has, or the readership of his or her publication. Although intended to be a more interactive social medium, Twitter is quickly becoming a broadcast medium due to the discrepancies between the numbers of followers users have—some are in the millions, like CNN Breaking News (@ccnbrk) with over 14.5 million followers (TwitterCounter). Twitter also does not regulate its content—that is, anyone possesses the ability to make an account and “report” on any topic with little to no regard for potential bias or overzealous reporting. Should an arrest or crime be highly publicized via Twitter, it may be nearly impossible to find an entirely impartial jury as outlined in the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution. During the t...

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Sysomos Inc. Replies and Retweets on Twitter. Sysomos Resource Library.
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Twitter Help Center. Frequently Asked Questions. 2013. Web. 15 Oct 2013.

“Twitter Reaches Half a Billion Accounts, More than 140 Million in the U.S.”
Semiocast. 30 Jul 2012. Web. 10 Nov 2013.

U.S. v. Shelnutt. Case No. 4:09-CR-14. District Court for the Middle District of
Georgia. 2 Nov 2009. Web. 10 Nov 2013.

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