5: Status Update: Facebook On The Increase In Divorce
Much has been reported recently on the trend of social media and online behaviour playing a contributing factor in the breakdown of marriages, with Facebook now being cited in as many as a third of divorces.
With the rapid rate of Facebook’s technical change and updates to security settings, it’s not surprising that many of its users find understanding how to set and manage the security of their profiles a challenge. However what does come as a surprise is when posts surface during divorce proceedings that people thought were private, either due to incorrect security settings or via mutual friends having liked a post.
Whilst evidence from Facebook and other social media websites can assist a case and raise questions about a person’s credibility, is it ultimately helpful? In my experience, the weight given to evidence of a personal nature from sources such as Facebook is often less than that of ‘traditional’ sources such as documentary evidence.
Facebook status updates are often cryptic, and written in way to deliberately invite speculation or curiosity among followers. Unless the post is very clear, such as announcing a new relationship, the opaque nature of many posts means they are open to interpretation and therefore rarely make for good evidence.
In addition, people often become enraged when they feel their ‘private space’ has been violated when their social media activity is used as evidence. If a couple is genuinely striving to achieve an amicable settlement, anything that is likely to be inflammatory or causes tensions to rise will make that outcome more difficult to achieve.
I have no doubt that the rising ubiquity of social media in our lives means the use of evidence sourced from platforms such as Facebook is likely to play an increasing role in divorce cases. However whether this type of evidence is actually helpful or indeed necessary is another question.
Taking a break from Facebook and other social media in the lead up to and during divorce proceedings is often a wise decision, however if this is too much to contemplate then my advice for posting content to Facebook is simple: if in doubt, leave it out.
26 January 2015