Reputation Evidence in the Age of Instagram
Volume 93, No. 3, Spring 2021
By Catherine Ross Dunham [PDF]

This Essay explores the reliability of reputation evidence. Specifically, the Essay examines the historical characterization of reputation evidence as reliable based on the construct of an in-person community where individuals can interact in a manner that allows the community to casually observe an individual over an extended period of time. As contemporary notions of community have moved away from the in-person construct, courts must be ready to evaluate an individual’s reputation in their social media communities.

Arguably, social media communities allow individuals to share curated versions of themselves, which can undermine the reliability of reputation evidence. However, in-person communities are subject to the same reliability challenges because individuals are able to construct their public image for a given social or professional setting. Courts should either allow for the admission of reputation evidence from a social media community or reconsider admitting reputation evidence as reliable evidence when the individual’s reputation flows from an in-person community.