The explosion of social networking websites in recent years has had some unintended consequences for many people: the details of their life are being downloaded as evidence for Court.
The ease of accessibility to your personal life is arguably the greatest aspect of social networking, but also poses its greatest risk to its users. Not surprisingly, some people make some questionable choices about the content they post on their page and that content – pictures, video, audio, links – are finding a life beyond the internet as exhibits to custody petitions, impeaching the testimony of witnesses, or proof of drug or alcohol abuse. In fact, a February 2010 survey of members of the American Academy for Matrimonial Lawyers found that 81% of its members have identified an increase in the use of social media data as evidence in court cases.
With sites such as Facebook engaged in a seemingly endless reexamination of their privacy rules, people should be extremely careful about what they post, content associated with them on other people’s pages, and who has access to that content. While they may not post a single incriminating item themselves, they need to be vigilant in removing tags from other people’s content and insulating themselves from embarrassing, incriminating, or scandalous information on a website.
If you engage in the type of behavior that might prove to be good fodder in a custody battle, besides taking some time to reexamine your choices, the next best advice is to move your life off-line for a while. The ease of disseminating information on social networking sites should not lead you to get complacent as to how you’re portraying yourself on-line.