Social Media and Criminal Courts: An Initial Proposition

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Alexandre BRANDAO, Onati Institute for the Sociology of Law, Brazil
Mason (2013) and Castells (2015) have investigated about the potential impacts that the internet and Social Media have had in connecting activists in the Arab Spring, the Indignados, and other New Social Movements that have recently erupted. For these, the connectivity increased political pressure from communities improving accountability and enhancing governance. On the other hand, the US election and the fake news phenomena have also brought the role of Social Media into the spotlight on a less positive way. For Sunstein (2017), Facebook has created echo chambers, enabling populism and opening up the space for confusion between facts and opinions.

However, the powerful role and impact that social media and the rapid advance of communication technology can have on Law has been underdeveloped. This is a major overlook, especially when it comes to Criminal Law and Criminology, areas that have traditionally paid attention to the role of media into its functioning. The objective of the research proposed is to analyze and attempt to provide a framework under which Social Media’s impact on and relationship with Criminal Law and its Courts can be understood. To accomplish this, the investigation will, through multiple case studies globally (Australia, Brazil and USA) elaborate about how do discussions and interactions on Facebook and Twitter affect the functioning of jury and non-jury based criminal courts and in what way are these handled by the courts themselves in cases of great political or social repercussion.

The research will take advantage of the methodological opportunity that has been created and will utilize the Twitter and Facebook Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to obtain big data and conduct the studies based on the information gathered from them, court transcripts, and on a smaller sample, interviews with the legal actors involved in the criminal proceedings.