The advent of the internet has made our world more accessible than ever before. It is now possible to share information with people across the globe just as easily as you could with someone right next door. Essentially, there is now limitless knowledge at our fingertips, plus computers can do everything from run our cars to balance our checkbooks.Of course, there are downsides to such ingrained connectivity. Computers can now be used to steal money, goods or identities with just a few keystrokes. Real-time website functionality makes it possible for celebrities to be stalked by the paparazzi. On a more personal level, some say that the concept of personal privacy has been a victim of the digital revolution, a concept that is borne out by the fact that most sophisticated electronics – including cell phones, laptops and tablets – can now be tracked via GPS.
The social media revolution
Regardless of how you feel about our digital age, another recent technological advance – the social media and networking website – is likely here to stay. There are obvious benefits to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (to name just a few), as they let us stay connected to family, reconnect with old friends and form helpful professional connections that can make a huge difference in our career. They can also be used to find new service providers, make a job change or maintain relationships over long distances.
Though these sites are only a few years old, they have millions of subscribers, some of whom log on at least once a day. If something big is happening in your life – like a divorce, move or major purchase – it might seem instinctive at this point to share it on social media platforms. This is one situation in which you might want to ignore that “gut feeling,” though.
Selectivity is key
You are probably tempted to use social media friendships to vent about the way a divorce is playing out, to complain about your ex, and to seek sympathy from loved ones. Unfortunately, though, anything you say, do or upload online – or someone else uploads, posts or “tags” for you – can be discoverable in a divorce, child custody dispute, child support disagreement or any other family-related legal matter. An estimated 80 percent of all divorce cases now have some form of electronic evidence admitted, in the form of status updates, posts, photos, videos, call records, instant messaging transcripts or emails.
A rule of thumb to remember when in the midst of any family law dispute: don’t publicize it unless you would want the judge to read it in open court. Sometimes it isn’t you posting something that could be construed inappropriately, but a friend or loved one doing it and then “tagging” you. An innocent action could have disastrous consequences; a photograph or statement that actually shows or mentions something innocuous might be misconstrued and used against you.
Do you need more information about the interplay of social media and divorce? Are you concerned about potential evidence that could have been gathered about you? If you are unsure of the impact your social media activity could have on a pending (or upcoming) divorce case, consult a skilled divorce attorney.