Public and Private Lines Blur in Dixon Trial

Looks like some of the jurors in the trial of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon will be getting at least a slap on the wrists for using Facebook to communicate with each other about the trial. According to the Baltimore Sun, five of the jurors discussed the trial on Facebook while the trial was going on, and now their actions threaten the guilty verdict that was handed down late last year.

What’s worse, when the judge asked them to stop, some of them kept doing it.

My first reaction to this is, “How dumb can you be?” How can you think that it’s o.k. to discuss official court business outside the structures provided (i.e. the jury room), especially when you’ve been told not to?

Then I realized that because of the emerging mobile social world, we take our networks with us wherever we go. It’s no secret that social networks users often post very personal messages, some that in other contexts might be considered too private to share (think tweeting the birth of your child–I’m looking at you @mmmcdermott!). Our private, virtual lives are constantly being intertwined with our public, real-world lives. The lines are completely blurred, and there’s no going back.

What’s kind of funny about this is that, until recently, some of the users apparently had their settings open to the public so anyone could see their remarks. And apparently, one of the jurors used a racial epithet to refer to the judge. Now, private or public, that’s just plain stupid.

LATE UPDATE: Turns out this might be a moot point; Sheila Dixon has resigned.

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