Social media has become the new town square. It’s where people meet, mingle and exchange news and views with friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances and even complete strangers.
With all of the recent scandal surrounding Facebook’s invasion of users’ privacy, it may be time to revisit just how much your social media account says about you – especially if you’re considering divorce.
Breaking down Facebook use and divorce
According to many recent studies, Facebook use and other social media activity has quickly become a contributing factor – if not the primary reason – why couples seek divorce. Researchers have found that:
- At least 25 percent of married couples have found something on a spouse’s Facebook account that makes them “uneasy” or question their relationship.
- 16 percent admit to routinely spying on their spouse looking for evidence of infidelity or emotional cheating.
- Less than 10 percent maintain secret social media accounts, but more than 30 percent hide or change their passwords regularly to prevent spousal snooping.
- Aside from the content, many couples fight about how much time social media takes up. A quarter of survey respondents in one study indicated they fight about Facebook at least once a week with their partner.
Most importantly, all studies routinely point out how Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram photos and other evidence can be used during divorce proceedings. In one study, researchers found that 81 percent of the members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers use social media evidence routinely in the course of their practice.
Minding your digital footprint during divorce
The best defense is a good offense, as the saying goes, and that’s especially true of using social media during divorce. When going through divorce:
- Remember that the Internet is a public forum. Treat Facebook and other accounts as public notice boards. If you wouldn’t say or advertise something personal in public, don’t post it online.
- Ask family members and friends to avoid tagging you in photos. Better yet, ask them to avoid posting any photos of you at all for the time being.
- If you need to blow off steam, do so offline. Call a close friend or family member to vent, as opposed to lashing out via Twitter.
In most cases, it doesn’t do any good to go through and delete compromising photos or posts after a divorce gets underway. Some lawyers make a point to capture digital data before divorce papers are even served for that very reason. Much of that evidence is likely discoverable through digital forensics anyway. Instead, discuss any potentially problematic information with your lawyer so he or she can help you manage it appropriately.
Often the best thing you can do when going through divorce is to carefully monitor what you post and what gets posted about you. It may be best to just take a break from social media altogether until your divorce is finalized.