We live in an age of digital oversharing. Perhaps because social media has become wired into our daily rituals, perhaps because when we share we really only see a screen, we in the end post frequently and often impulsively, without a complete filter of our thoughts. In the context of divorce, this habit could spell disaster.
The first reality every person even thinking of getting a divorce should acknowledge is that anything posted on a social media platform will be permanent and located. Even if you post one rant about your ex or your children on a private status update and delete it a few minutes later, that post has already become part of the Internet vortex. It will be archived by one or more social media platforms and also search engines. Computer experts who know how to find “deleted” material will hunt and locate potentially damaging statements you put into cyberspace.
But what we have found is that most people do not get “caught” through deleted messages as much as with posts left for others to read and copy and alert your ex. The danger of having too many friends online is that it becomes like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon – one of your friends will be friends with someone who is friends of your ex (who is friends of someone who is friends with Kevin Bacon). Anything you think is a closed circle chat is in reality an open post to the universe, a time bomb waiting to go off and blow up your case.
What should people in a divorce or considering a divorce do?
First, never ever post anything online relating to your spouse, your divorce or your children. Never.
Second, consider suspending your social media usage. No Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter. Basically, “take the Fifth” and assume anything you say online can and will be used against you in court.
Third, discuss social media use with your children, as their words too could become part of the evidence in your divorce case. While it may seem that taking a teenager off social media is somewhere just shy of solving the Middle East’s problems, it is possible to help your children understand the consequences of their words – a good lesson overall.
Remember: people get very emotional during divorce and your fuse could be much shorter than normal. You do not want to make that permanent by an impulsive and unwise post in social media.
Even seemingly innocent sharing could be problematic: a picture of you and the children at a fancy outing could be used to show you have more financial means than you have maintained in court, or could be used to question your judgment or parenting skills. So, with regard to social media and divorce, silence is always the best policy.
If you have questions about social media and divorce, contact us – we can help.