Facebook Timestamp Used In Lawsuit Claiming Driver Was Facebooking When She Ran Over & Killed Pedestrian

from the modern-evidence dept

With all the stories these days of folks "texting while driving," it was only a matter of time until there was an attempt to claim that Facebooking-while-driving resulted in an accident. A wrongful death lawsuit in Chicago is alleging that the driver of a car in a fatal accident had just updated her Facebook status at the same time. The details of the situation are a bit confusing. Basically, a 70-year-old guy named Raymond Veloz got into an accident with another car (not the fatal accident) around 7:30 am. The two cars pulled over to the side of the road to exchange information. Closer to 8 am, another car, driven by Araceli Beas, struck Veloz, severing his leg, resulting in him bleeding to death. Veloz's daugher is now claiming in the lawsuit that Beas updated her Facebook status at 7:54 am... the exact same time that Veloz called 911 over being hit by Beas' car. Beas' mother insists that her daughter updated her status earlier, from the front of her boyfriend's house, as she waited for her car to warm up. Either way, this should make for an interesting case, as the timing of the various calls and questions about the accuracy and delay in Facebook messages and timestamps will suddenly become very, very important...


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    Its probably an email routing problem ...

    If it was a response through a cell phone it may have taken a while. Last year I responded through my balckberry, it took over an hour to show up on facebook.

     

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  2.  
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    Steven (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:20pm

    Was the update something along the lines of "On our way to... OMG I just hit somebody!!!"

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Its probably an email routing problem ...

    "AN INTERNET WAS SENT BY MY STAFF AT 10 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING ON FRIDAY. I GOT IT YESTERDAY!"

    Sorry, I couldn't resist. If she used her cell phone then it should be recorded somewhere since they record the timestamp and size every bit of data that you send.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Its probably an email routing problem ...

    I agree with Hepadorkus. Plus, some image hosters re-size and compress the image, therein creating a new file. If this happens, even the EXIF data may not even be accurate.

    The whole interwesbs thing is created for sharing data and isn't air tight when it comes to maintaining a legality.

    Ask to "Prove chain of custody"?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Its probably an email routing problem ...

    Right on. I agree with Hepadorkus. Plus, some image hosters re-size and compress the image, therein creating a new file. If this happens, even the EXIF data may not even be accurate, or subject to re-interpretation.

    The whole interwesbs thing is created for sharing data and isn't air tight when it comes to maintaining a legality.

    Ask to "Prove chain of custody"

     

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  6.  
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    The eejit (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:29pm

    Re:

    No, it will have been '100 points!!!!' [/badtastebear]

     

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  7.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:39pm

    Re:

    The sick part is that failbook.com is absolutely FILLED with these....

     

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  8.  
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    TheStupidOne, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re:

    Did she at least get out of the car and get her money back?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

    Using timestamps from Facebook or any blog platform to prove anything is scary to say the least, those time stamps are notoriously unreliable.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    Hmmm..

    Maybe it got el moderadid.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re: Its probably an email routing problem ...

    you will need to ask Facebook to open up the code so people can see what is happening to the text and how the server decides which imestamp to put there, two different persons wont see the same time, further you need to track the path and watch all the delays along the path it took, that will be fun, have tower logs about that stuff? I don't believe they have

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Or a Google Maps request to "Find Nearest Carwash".

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 4:09pm

    Just to make a point, right now here is 21:08, what the time stamp of this post will be?

    Facebook is equally reliable LoL

     

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  14.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 4:36pm

    A Minute Is A Long Time

    At a typical suburban speed of, say, 50km/h, knowing the time only to the nearest minute could easily put you hundreds of metres away, with plenty of time to react. (The better part of a minute to react, in fact.)

    They’d have to narrow the time down to the second to have any plausibility on this one.

     

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  15.  
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    Paul`, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 4:47pm

    Mobile facebook updates are regularly delayed by numerous factors, they aren't instant, and who said the 911 timestamps match perfectly with the facebook server. Are they both tied into the same atomic clock?

     

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  16.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:05pm

    Re: Re: Its probably an email routing problem ...

    "Hepadorkus"

    Actually you should spell it HephaDorkis for it to work and be grin worthy. ;)

     

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  17.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Its probably an email routing problem ...

    "you will need to ask Facebook to open up the code so people can see what is happening "

    You need to follow the entire path the email followed, cell phone company ... etc ... and facebook. We recently had a mail gateway-router lock up where I work it took 6 hours before someone even noticed and restarted it.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:30pm

    00:30 hours here, what the time stamp on the post says?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 7:32pm

    Re:

    5 hours behind my actual timezone LoL
    Yep I see how that could be a problem.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 8:46pm

    Re: Re:

    Uh... the server knows, even though you apparently don't.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 12:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If the server knows why does it show the wrong time then?

    here, lets try again.

    It is now 5:33am.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 12:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well there you go again, it is 5:33 am and the time stamp for the post here is saying 12:33am(midnight) yep, the server knows right?

    The same thing happens on Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, MySpace and every blog out there.

    So it is scary that someone thinks that a Facebook timestamp should be enough to accuse anyone of something, it is not accurate.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 12:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    BTW we are talking about the timestamps that appear on the post right not the large number in seconds the server is using to calculate the time, which could also be wrong, since they are created in the timezone of the server and not the person making the post.

     

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  24.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Feb 19th, 2011 @ 3:27am

    Re: Re:

    Sorry, the elderly are only worth 50. (Seen that movie!)

     

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  25.  
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    btrussell (profile), Feb 19th, 2011 @ 5:06am

    What is "facebooking?"

    Am I now "Techdirting?"
    Was I "Farking" just before this?


    Was the Mother at the boyfriends overnight as well?

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Seriously. The server has a time too, you know. It logs according to its time. You connect to the server. How hard can this be to understand?

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 5:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I will be polite because you seem to be confused.

    Well if the server is locate in a timezone that its ahead of yours 1 hour what do you think it happens?
    You could post something one hour earlier and have something happen one hour after and it would appear you was multitasking when you were not.

    Also did you ever stop to think how hard it is to have a server farm keep updating their clocks everyday? If you go to anywhere where there are tens of thousands of single units they all will have different times set on them, they want be all the same, they are not rated and are not required to keep perfect track of time or take into account other variables.

    Even for billing companies only need to track the amount of time spent using the system not the accuracy of the time it was being used, to do that would mean billions in upgrades to very very expensive equipment.

    How hard it is to understand that?

    I just proved to you twice that servers can and do log different times from where the person actually is.

     

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  28.  
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    btrussell (profile), Feb 19th, 2011 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Keep posting and keep paying attention to the time you post and the time recorded on the post.

    See if you can recognize a pattern. Say, something like, consistently a 5 hour difference?


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Zones

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 6:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Exactly, now suppose you are on a daylight saving time zone, your clock will be different from the servers, the servers could have a problem with their clock they don't need to be accurate, many servers use UTC and try to compensate so if you use an droid Facebook app that uses a proxy to send data to another server it could create discrepancies in time.

    Can you see the problem there?

    Where are the servers located?
    How time is calculate and stored on the receiving and transmitting servers?
    How do you guarantee that the time send/received/generated is actually accurate?

    Those are real problems and that is why IP collection is also unreliable and generates a lot of false positives, that is why people sometimes get huge bill in their cellphone accounts because somebody else usage is being charged from them by mistake.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 6:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    In one simple statement, because of different timezones, errors in how to deal with that basic fact leads to a lot of errors.

    That is why using that to punish or absolve anybody is a risk proposition, that is why IP harvesting the way currently it is done generates so much false positives, that is why people get billed incorrectly all the time.

    Now are we going to use that and risk sending innocent people to jail, I find it scary and so should you.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 6:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The problem is not me knowing I have a 5 hours discrepancy in the time shown, is about how others will know that.

    23:43

    If the server knew that wouldn't he has shown the right time?

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 6:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Quote:
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 6:43pm

    The problem is not me knowing I have a 5 hours discrepancy in the time shown, is about how others will know that.

    23:43

    If the server knew that wouldn't he has shown the right time?


    Heck, now is 7 LoL

    My best guess is that the server tries to compensate using UTC calculations based on geolocation information, so using TOR actually can have a great impact on time shown to others also using apps to post on Facebook can and probably insert those same problems, is the raw time logged or the transformed version? was the person making a post on a day-saving timezone with a different clock?

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 6:55pm

    Quote:
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 6:43pm

    The problem is not me knowing I have a 5 hours discrepancy in the time shown, is about how others will know that.

    23:43

    If the server knew that wouldn't he has shown the right time?


    Now its 7 hours, the server obviously is trying to compensate probably using UTC to calculate the time and the geolocation information that it has, so probably the time you see in your screen may also be different from what I'm seeing.

    23:54 Sun, Feb 20.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 6:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Now how the server stores the timestamps?
    Using the raw UTC or storing a modified version that tried to match the location of the server sending that information to it?

    Nobody is asking the very important question, what could go wrong?

    23:59, Sun Feb 20.

     

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  35.  
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    btrussell (profile), Feb 19th, 2011 @ 7:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I don't know that, until now.
    Now I can tell you what time it was by your watch every time you post. Provided you stay at same location. Or at least remain in same time zone you are now.

    The server is showing the correct time for its' time zone, not yours.

    Now, if the police are investigating you at the scene of an accident, don't you think they will know what time zone you are in? That they won't be able to find out what time zone Td is operating under?




    "In one simple statement, because of different timezones, errors in how to deal with that basic fact leads to a lot of errors."
    Then all I can say is, be glad you aren't in Canada and having to deal with the extra complication of Newfoundlands' time zone.

    I never said anything about it being proof for conviction.

    But I am curious as to whether a three way was going on. No one seems to be questioning the Mothers' statement about update happening in daughters' boyfriends' driveway. Was she there? Are they neighbors?
    Blinded by sun, Dec.27th, at 8am, heading SOUTH? Sun rises in the east here and would just be coming up. Need more info.

    Personally, I think knowing that she accidentally killed someone while driving, is probably enough punishment.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 11:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Current time here.04:08, Sun 20, February 2011.

    Quote:
    Now, if the police are investigating you at the scene of an accident, don't you think they will know what time zone you are in? That they won't be able to find out what time zone Td is operating under?


    Maybe yes, maybe no there are other factors.

    - Do the police know where the server for Facebook is located that originated the time stamp? they know her timezone, but which server created the one that is used to tag her post? you need both points and the knowledge of the time used(i.e. the clocks) along with knowledge of possible things that could have delayed the message or corrupted the time data.

    - Do they know the clock of the server was functioning correctly?

    - Can they trace it back?

    - When its the creation of the time stamp done, when the message is received, if the server is overloaded do they cache that and delay the time stamp creation? Do the cellphone company have caches to control load? Simply put do the path have any caches between the sender and the receiver that could delay the deliver of the message?

    - Did the time stamp on the server get logged raw or it is modified to reflect the timezone from where it came from?

    - If it is not a raw version of the time, it is sensitive to geolocation of the machine sending the information, so if you use an app that logs in, on Facebook for you and that server is in another country it will not show the right time or if you use proxies(i.e. TOR that changes every 10 min), it will show a different time in different timezones. Simply put if there are any modification to the data information how it is calculated?

    - Did the police take the time to go look for that? very important as laziness or lack of resources could impact discovery.

    - There are no bugs in the system that could corrupt that data?

    If you depend on the posts from Techdirt to calculate my timezone you will be sad, because I'm using TOR and that means it changes servers and locations every 10 min, which means you could be looking at any number of timezones, which reminds me that some people using mobiles use apps that have servers in different countries to post messages to Facebook, was she using anything like that?

     

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  37.  
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    Mike Stabile, Feb 20th, 2011 @ 12:37pm

    Does it really matter?

    Is there any dispute that she hit the guy? Why does it matter if she was texting or not? I assume she is being charged with manslaughter. If she is convicted will facebook have to add another relationship option, "Whatever my cell-mate wants!"

     

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  38.  
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    abc gum, Feb 20th, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    Proving a violation of some nanny law becomes more difficult with the advent of employers demanding access, including password, to your social media accounts.

     

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  39.  
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    Raul quintec, Apr 11th, 2012 @ 12:15pm

    texting and driving...time stamps

    Cell phone time stamps are a Joke. Iphone has had this probem for a long time with facebook app posting times 2 to 3 hrs off. If you send a message, and your phone takes a while to go back online and search for signal..the wrong time might be listed. I know of someone who owns a cell phone from a Alabama service provider with san diego number and her messages sometimes take a long time to post to cells. If it because if has to use DNS, Dhcp or email servers in alabama using alabama time zone instead of California Time zone. Im not saying that she wasnt texting or that she is not guilty. Cell phones are just as reliable as the vendor running the service...You get what you paided for somethimes!

     

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  40.  
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    Krepta, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 11:35pm

    Re:

    I see your point, some sites put all time stamps in a specific time zone only, rather that store it as GMT then do the conversion for the person viewing the timestamp. So, for You it is 21:08 when you hit send, but for Me it says 4:09pm. Really only one minute different if you disregard the time zones.

     

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  41.  
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    Krepta, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 11:40pm

    Re: Re:

    BTW, I am in AZ, which is Always -0700GMT, and it appears, at the moment, that this server is also on -0700GMT. I'm posting this at 23:40.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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