Miranda Warnings: Depp v. Heard and the Effects of Social Media on Trials
The Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation trial did more than fill the gossip columns in the tabloids. The case demonstrated the expanded use and power of social media — often by third parties not involved in the case.
In the latest episode of Miranda Warnings, host David Miranda breaks down the trial and the impact of social media on the case and in the court of public opinion.
Joining him in the discussion were Scott Malouf, a social media attorney in the Rochester area, and Debra Hamilton, a Westchester County attorney who specializes in mediation involving clients and their pets. The two recently co-authored an article in the New York State Bar Journal on the case.
The Depp v Heard case was unique in that it was televised in real time from a Virginia courtroom. Both guests say the coverage started small and took on a life of its own as it grew.
“Small influencers were watching the case, starting to comment on it and getting a lot more traction which means more ad revenue,” said Malouf. “Some of influencers said they supported Johnny because that content did better. It had nothing to do with who was winning and I think for litigants and organizations that’s a really tough and scary prospect.”
Hamilton says attorneys have a tough job balancing what is right for their clients and trying to prevent an outside party from affecting the case.
“We are in the business of helping our clients solve issues. However, if they get involved in social media and third parties get involved in carrying their water, so to speak, in social media it can really escalate.”
Listen to the episode here or watch it on YouTube.