As I’m sure almost anyone with a computer and an internet connection is aware, recently a video was published on youtube showing a woman dancing in a sexually suggestive manner, falling and lighting herself on fire. The video generated a huge buzz, and was featured on almost every major news network at some point throughout the week. Well, it turns out that this video was part of an elaborate experiment to gauge the power of the internet and viral marketing. It would appear as if that experiment was a huge success.
According to Jimmy Kimmel, the comedian and host behind the video, the proliferation of the video began with nothing more than uploading it to youtube. Despite the hilarity of this whole affair, there are actually some critically important undertones to this that are worth considering. We live in a digital age where the ubiquity of social media is inescapable. Billions of images and videos are posted on the internet yearly. This video hoax illustrates how easy it is to perpetrate a fraud via the world wide web that is then distributed widely by others (9 million people plus saw this video).
Throughout my experience in the court system and practicing law, I have been floored by the frequency in which social media interactions intersect with legal matters. What this video shows is that now, more than ever, it is necessary to establish laws requiring certain evidentiary protections for the admissibility of these internet communications in legal proceedings. In sum, these rules must clearly explain how one must prove that a video, photo of post was published by a certain individual. Truth is a scarce resource in the internet landscape, so it is crucial that all netizens and legal professionals maintain a healthy degree of skepticism on the web. Click here to few the before and after video.