The Associated Press reports on a new trend that should give students yet more pause when posting controversial photos of themselves online. Internet hangouts such as Facebook and MySpace have offered crime-solving help to detectives and become a resource for employers vetting job applicants, AP reports–and now the sites are proving fruitful for prosecutors, who have used damaging internet photos of defendants to cast doubt on their character during sentencing hearings and argue for harsher punishment. "Social networking sites are just another way that people say things or do things that come back and haunt them," said Phil Malone, director of the cyberlaw clinic at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. "The things that people say online or leave online are pretty permanent."
The pictures, when shown at sentencing, not only embarrass defendants but also can make it harder for them to convince a judge that they’re remorseful or that their drunken behavior was an aberration. (Of course, the sites are also valuable for defense lawyers looking to dig up dirt to undercut the credibility of a star prosecution witness…)
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