Social Media & Divorce: Post with Caution
Most people have heard by now that if you are planning to go through a divorce anytime soon or you are already involved in a divorce or custody battle, it might be time to trim back your online presence. As noted in the prior Blog post “Do Social Media Sites Increase Divorce?” (http://www.divorce.com/blog/do-social-media-sites-increase-divorce), the popular social media websites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, Photobucket and others have become the latest battlegrounds in divorce and child-support contests. Divorce attorneys and private investigators searching for information on a client’s wayward spouse or ex-spouse know that social media websites are a good way to catch people doing things they don’t want anyone else to know about.
Over three quarters of the attorneys surveyed in an American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) study said they had seen an increase in cases involving evidence gleaned from social media. Attorneys and private investigators can easily find incriminating evidence on profile pages, wall comments, status updates, and photo files. The information taken from social media sites is rarely the image a spouse or parent wanted to present in court and negative evidence can affect alimony disputes and custody fights. An exposed parent could easily lose custody, alimony, or both, due to evidence of inappropriate behavior found online.
The remedy is obviously for people to be more careful about what they post on the Internet, but beyond the evidence gathering, the millions of people signed up to social networking sites could also be leaving themselves, and even their employers, open to other forms of online crime. Posting personal info like birth dates, addresses and phone numbers is a big source of business for identity frauds. Hackers have taken details posted on work websites to discover passwords and other information that will allow them to bypass corporate security and steal users’ log-in details.
More than causing broken relationships and getting people fired at work, using the Internet recklessly can even get people into blackmail trouble and worse. Posting nude or incriminating pictures that end up in the wrong hands can lead to getting blackmailed for money, sex, and other schemes. You never know who you’re really communicating with online and connecting with an imposter pretending to be someone else can easily lead to tragic consequences. Social networking has been blamed for many things, but the worst may be the link between social networking and a number of suicides indirectly due to impersonations and online harassment.
In all fairness, social media sites do not directly create the many problems that can result from a lack of online caution and restraint; it is the users’ behavior that causes the trouble in nearly every instance. If you are currently using a social media website, think twice before posting anything truly personal on what is rapidly becoming an increasingly public place.