Facebook, Jurors and the 'Virtual Veil'
From Guardian.co.uk: 18.11.08:
A female juror was dismissed from a trial after posting details of the case on Facebook and asking friends whether they thought the defendants were guilty.
The woman went against strict rules forbidding jurors from discussing cases with family and friends by posting details of the sexual assault and child abduction trial on the social networking site.
After her actions were discovered, she was removed from the case at Burnley crown court, in Lancashire, and the trial continued with a jury of 11 people.
A Courts Service spokesman said today: "A juror was dismissed from a case on November 18 for discussing a case outside the court."
It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a Facebook related entry so this one seemed an obvious choice. For what it’s worth, I’ve largely given up with my Facebook-bashing, as I got sick with it falling so invariably on ‘deaf ears’. I get it: the world loves Facebook and only I don’t. Oh well.
The story does, though, highlight interesting behavioural patterns when people are online, particularly when engaged in social networking activities. I think it shows up a serious divide in many people’s brains over regulating their actions in the real world and the online one. Did the juror really think she’d get away with it? Did she think that her ‘online persona’ is so divorced from reality that any actions carried out online would not be attributed to her real ‘human’ person? It’s almost as though some people view their online conduct as being separated from reality by a ‘virtual veil’, which their real, human person can hide behind without fear of being troubled by disagreeable repercussions that flow from the actions of their ‘online person’. You know, something analogous to the 'corporate veil' which derives from the twin pillar characteristics that a company is blessed with: separate legal personality and limited liability. No?! Anyone?! No, my girlfriend wasn’t interested either.
Sidenote: I’ve become more than a little bored with studying the majestic intricacies surrounding the corporate veil and its lifting, piercing or otherwise penetrating for what seems like an eternity in my Company law module. It still amuses me that on the LPC in Business Law and Practice it was merely mentioned in passing with perhaps two sentences dedicated to the topic. On the LL.M, though, we’ve dissected it to absolute death and then some, more or less from the start of term. God, I love academia.