Launched in 2004, Facebook quickly became popular and remains as one of the top social media platforms today.1 Millions of people log in daily and post status updates, comments, photos, and probably far too much information than they should. You may have heard that anything you post online could affect your employment status. However, many people are unaware that social media can be used against you during your divorce.
Facebook and UK Divorces
In fact, when specialists from Leeds, UK law firm Lake Legal recently reviewed over 200 divorce cases, they found that Facebook was cited in one-third of cases. According to Lake Legal, social media provides a running log of the lives of users and this information can be used in court. From status updates about new relationships, to vacations, to job changes and geo-tagged photos, Facebook provides a record of the details of your life, all of which can be harvested and combined with other personal data found on the web and used as evidence. The firm compared social media to a “massive public noticeboard.”2
Facebook and American Divorces
In 2010, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) released the results of a survey that showed 81 percent of divorce attorneys in the U.S. saw an increase in divorce cases citing Facebook. In fact, 66 percent of those attorneys cited the social media giant as a primary source of evidence in divorce cases. As the number of Facebook users has grown from about 608 million in 20103, to over 1 billion in 20154, it is safe to assume that Facebook is cited in more cases now than ever.
Why Facebook is Used in Divorces
A divorce makes spouses vulnerable to increased personal scrutiny. An estranged spouse may gather all the evidence they can find to convince the court that, for example, the other spouse makes more money than he or she reported, got a new job, or went on vacation with someone. All of these things can greatly impact the outcome of a divorce.
Private messages, comments, and photos with location information have been admitted as evidence in court, and they have been what helped many discover the unknown private lives of their spouse. At the very least, information collected from Facebook and other social media platforms could help call into question the credibility of your spouse.
Realistically, there is so much personal information available on the web that an estranged spouse could easily dig up your financial data, where you live, where you are employed, your average salary, your personal history, as well as your current relationship status. Your social media updates only help to weave together the collected data to form a detailed record that can be used against you in your divorce.
Social Media Recommendations for Divorcing Spouses
If you are going through a divorce, do not add to the information that is already available about you online. In fact, you may want to consider taking some time to completely remove some of your personal information from the Internet.
If you use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others, be mindful about what you are posting. Remember, not only does your content give away information, most status updates, posts, comments, and messages have time stamps that can’t be changed, allowing an interested party to develop a general schedule of your daily habits.
Do You Think Facebook Data Should Be Allowed as Evidence in Divorce?
We at Wallin & Klarich would like to hear your opinion regarding the use of Facebook and other social media data being allowed in divorce cases. Do you think that this type of information should be allowed? Do you worry about how much personal information is available on the web? Have you tried to remove your personal data from collection or social media sites? Did it work? Please leave your comments below.