Imagine: you’re on Facebook and you see that one of your friends has changed their relationship status from ‘married’ to ‘single.’ It’s always complicated to let people know about your divorce, and Facebook gives you a way (for better or worse) to let everyone know. Isn’t that easy?
Think about how easy it is to put information on Facebook, transmit it, and show it off to everyone you know (or everyone with eyes and a computer, depending on your privacy settings.) Social networking sites, like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and even World of Warcraft are becoming the new way through which divorces often start and gather momentum. Photos, updates, and posts provide very concrete evidence of what you are doing, and the fact that you’re showing it off to the world may cause some pain to your spouse if you are the leave-er and he or she is the leave-ee. Privacy is important in protecting the other person’s dignity – and there can be hell to pay when you hurt someone more than you have to.
Technology is redefining our lives and so it is with online social networking. Self disclosure in cyberspace is now being used as evidence in some divorce cases as proof that one spouse is at fault, lying, or less fit to be taking care of the kids. According to an article in USA today, research by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers conveys that, over the last five years, 81% of divorce lawyers have either utilized or encountered evidence from social networking sites. Facebook is the most cited site, appearing in 66% of cases using subpoenaed Internet evidence.
Now, the problem here are not the sites themselves. Marriages break up for the most ancient of reasons, power struggles, lack of kindness, loss of love, hurt, money problems, infidelity and the like. The Internet doesn’t cause marital problems (people do) but it can make matters worse. Infidelity is without doubt, easier because of the sheer access to so many potential lovers. Gambling takes on new forms (like a poker addiction) found in one’s living room computer. But anonymity is not what one likes to think, because the Internet also makes it easier for the offending spouse to get caught. The double life you try to lead on the Internet might just come back to haunt you. Lawyers know how to find information you’ve posted on social networking sites that you thought had been kept hidden. Sage advice: Like driving a car, it is a good idea to know about the power of technology before using it and finding yourself in trouble.