There Is Now Federal “Selfie” Authority

Who says the federal courts lag behind technical advances?

Well, thanks to last week’s United States v. Doe, No. 1:12–cr–00128–MR–DLH (W.D. N.C. Aug. 14 2013), we now have a federal definition of “selfie.” Well, kind of.

The opinion arises from a motion to suppress, and since we don’t opine on criminal law, we won’t recite the facts and specific issues.  But check out this footnote:

The term “selfie” is the name given to a self-portrait photograph, “often snapped at odd angles with smartphones[,]” and “typically made to post on a social networking website (or sen[t] in a text message)[.]”

See id. at *8 n.6 (citing Katy Steinmetz, “The Top 10 Buzzwords of 2012,” Time, Dec. 4, 2012, http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/12/04/top–10–news–lists/slide/selfie).

According to our very, very brief Westlaw search, this is the only state or federal court to use the word “selfie.”

Curiously, the link cited in the footnote is no longer active; the correct portion of the cited article can be found here.

The court also noted:

With the popularity of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, together with cell phones’ capability to send text messages and pictures, common sense would lead a practical person to conclude that human behavior includes the making of flattering or unflattering “selfies.” That the Defendant’s phone probably would contain evidence of the three crimes listed in the warrant application was within the issuing magistrate’s realm of lawful consideration. The issuing magistrate, therefore, had a substantial basis for concluding that probable cause existed.

Id. at *8.

It’s good to see courts catching up to the technological trends, and we hope any selfie-related litigation cites to this opinion.

Comments

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