Trial by Social Media: how do you find the jury, guilty or not guilty?

Authors: Taylor, J.

Conference: Social Networking in Cyberspace

Dates: 3-4 September 2015

Abstract:

The growth of social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook has made it easier than ever to access information and opinions associated with criminal proceedings, and viewing or discussing such media could influence jurors, reducing their impartiality. Pre-trial details have long been an issue with the easy availability of traditional mass media (such as TV and newspapers), however social media make such information even more accessible and also difficult to avoid. The aim of this study was to explore whether viewing comments and opinions posted onto social networking websites influenced the verdicts of mock jurors in their individual and group decisions. 72 undergraduate participants were recruited and formed twelve 6-person mock juries. All participants received information regarding a murder trial and participants were exposed to various experimental conditions in the form of biased social media comments which were negative, positive or neutral towards the defendant. A control condition of non-exposure was also used in which participants received only the trial information. Participants were required to give both individual and collective decisions on the verdict and an indication of their confidence in their decisions. The results showed that prior to mock jury discussion, exposure to negatively-biased social media comments significantly increased the number of guilty verdicts given individually by jurors and exposure to positively-biased social media significantly increased the number of not guilty verdicts given individually by jurors. However, these biased effects disappeared following mock jury deliberations. Also, participants reported a significantly higher confidence rating in their post-deliberation verdict, than the ratings pre-deliberations. The implications of these findings are that jurors are likely to be influenced by social media and unable to remain impartial before a trial, but that jury discussion will remove these prejudices. The findings support much of the group and jury literature where group decisions are shown to be superior to individual decisions as they help to remove biases. Further research is suggested where participants interact actively with social media, rather than passively view other’s comments.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/31874/

Source: Manual

Trial by Social Media: how do you find the jury, guilty or not guilty?

Authors: Taylor, J.

Journal: International Journal of Cyber Research and Education

Volume: 1

Issue: 2

Pages: 50-61

ISSN: 2577-4816

Abstract:

Social media makes it easier than ever to access information and opinions associated with criminal proceedings, and viewing or discussing these pre-trial could reduce juror impartiality. This study explored whether viewing social media comments influenced mock juror verdicts. Seventy two participants formed twelve 6-person ‘mock juries’. All participants received information regarding a murder trial. Nine groups were exposed to social media comments, manipulated to be negative, positive or neutral towards the defendant. The remaining three groups only received trial information (control condition). Results showed that prior to group discussion, exposure to negatively-biased comments significantly increased the number of guilty verdicts, however these effects disappeared after group discussion. Therefore, although jurors may be unable to remain impartial before a trial, jury discussion can remove these prejudices; supporting previous group research. Further research is suggested where participants interact actively with social media, rather than passively viewing comments.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/31874/

Source: BURO EPrints