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Is there any way to save a Facebook post as third-party evidence to use in the court room? I need an authentic way of saving it, where the judge and juries will not cast question on the saving procedure or the authenticity of the Facebook post.

To a broader sense, how can I save all types of web pages, whether they need log-in process or not, for court room use?

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    Screenshot and contemporaneous notation of when it was taken.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 26 at 0:31
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    The general way to do this is to subpoena the hosting service (e.g. Facebook). In 99.9% of the cases the hosting service retains all information published even if it gets hidden by the poster and you can ask records about that information. This doesn't work if the content is self-hosted... in that case you can only get circumstantial evidence, for example you could ask the Wayback machine to create a copy, or show that the content was indexed on Google as returned by search results.
    – GACy20
    Jan 26 at 8:03
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    I don't know whether it is valid in your country, but couldn't you take a link and ask a notary to make a screenshot, validate it and more importantly write a date on it?
    – FluidCode
    Jan 26 at 10:21
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    Is this for criminal or civil cases? And is it on behalf of the prosecution / plaintiff or the defendant? I ask because in some jurisdictions the burden of proof can be either "on the balance of probabilities" or "beyond a reasonable doubt" depending on the type of case and who's introducing the evidence.
    – Rick
    Jan 26 at 13:57
  • @FluidCode Notaries are the "old way" to handle this kind of requirement. There exist "Trusted timestamp" services that will digitally sign documents with the date (first result on google for me is this one), obviously whether these hold in court the same or less than a notarized piece of evidence depends... it is certainly better proof than only your statements and screenshots, and certainly better than nothing.
    – GACy20
    Jan 26 at 14:18

2 Answers 2

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In the United States, it does not matter how you save any evidence; the other side will essentially always be permitted to question its authenticity. Even if they don't question it, a judge or jury would still be free to do so.

That said, the standard means of saving this kind of evidence would be to make a screengrab or print it to PDF, and to attach that to an affidavit in which you swear that the image is an authentic representation of the content of the web page as of whatever date and time.

If you want something that is harder to question, you could also ask some independent third party to do so. There are, for instance, archiving services like archive.org and perma.cc that will copy a page and store it indefinitely, largely removing the question of whether you might have manipulated the page in any way.

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    FWIW, many U.S. courts require disclose of proposed exhibits prior to trials in civil cases and deem authenticity objections waived if not timely raised prior to trial, which frequently takes the admissibility piece of authenticity out of the hands of the judge and jury. Authenticity as relevant to admissibility and authenticity as to weight of the evidence are two similar concepts that overlap. Only the latter can be considered by a jury once evidence is admitted.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 26 at 0:34
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The basic way to save it is to take a screenshot. This has little actual probative value beyond your own credibility; it is trivial for someone with basic HTML skills to forge a Fakebook screenshot, but it at least creates a document that you can authenticate and submit. A more advanced technique would be to get some sort of verification by someone a finder of fact would consider to be trustworthy, such as a notary or police officer. Since Facebook uses HTTPS, the data constituting the post should have a digital signature, so if you can record that with the data, that should be strong evidence of the authenticity. Ultimately, if it remains in dispute, there is the option of subpoenaing Facebook, but that is unlikely to be used in minor disputes. Keep in mind that even if you were to subpoena Facebook, the opposing party could still dispute who made the post. At most it would show that someone with access to the account made the post.

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    No HTML skills are necessary. Just right click in Firefox, select Inspect element and change the text to whatever you like without understanding a single HTML element. opu.peklo.biz/p/22/01/26/1643193820-e5a22.png Jan 26 at 10:43
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    "forge a Fakebook screenshot" <- nice subliminal typo Jan 26 at 11:46
  • I think HTTPS allows both parties to forge the contents of the stream. (Not certain, though.)
    – wizzwizz4
    Jan 26 at 14:33
  • @wizzwizz4: I believe you are correct as HTTPS will generally use some variation of DH to establish a symmetric "session key." To make matters worse, a properly implemented client is expected to throw away this session key as soon as it is no longer needed for reasons of forward secrecy, so unless you modify the HTTPS client to preserve this key, you can't even prove that your browser talked to Facebook at all.
    – Kevin
    Jan 26 at 20:55
  • What it gives you, which is valuable, is narrowing the possibilities to just truth or outright forgery. The option it excludes is the much more common middle option that sits somewhere between misremembering and spin.
    – Josiah
    Jan 26 at 21:01

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