What Can Your Ex Learn About You From Facebook? Protecting Yourself In A Social Media World.– Posted by Miriam R. Gordon
Social media has become both a convenient and a frustrating technology. While it allows you to reconnect with old friends and stay in touch with current friends, it allows others a window into your life.
Facebook posts, tweets, and Instagram photos have become commonplace as evidence in Court. Specifically in Family Law cases, Facebook posts can be used to show the location of a party or to provide evidence that a party has the funds to pay child support. For example, if Facebook shows one vacationing in the Caribbean or dining at a five-star restaurant it can serve as evidence. Recently, a New York court allowed a woman to serve her husband with a Petition for Dissolution via Facebook messenger. See the full story here: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/exclusive-woman-facebook-serve-divorce-papers-article-1.2174577. Though an unusual case – the wife had no idea where her husband was living, they had only communicated via phone and Facebook messenger and even a private investigator was unable to locate the husband for personal service – the implications are worth noting. While it is highly unlikely courts will start to allow people to substitute Facebook messenger for personal service, it is a powerful reminder that social media has infiltrated the legal system.
Do you know if your social media is private? The best way to check is to review the privacy settings on your social media profiles. On Facebook, click on the little arrow in the upper-right corner, select “Settings,” and then hit the “Privacy” tab on the left side of the page. You may want to change some of your settings. Then click on the “Timeline and Tagging” link on the left side of the page and find the “View As” link (under the “Who can see things on my timeline?” section). This will show you how your profile looks to the public. You can even make yourself unsearchable.
The reality is that most people are Facebook friends with their spouse. Once you separate, even if you block or delete your spouse, they can still see your profile if it is public, or even if it is private, through mutual friends and family. Facebook, Twitter, and the millions of other social media sites out there also store photos and posts for years. You may log onto your Facebook page, click on your photos, and see photos from years past. While this may be helpful in your case to remember certain dates and events, it can also be very damaging. Once litigation has started, you cannot go back and delete the evidence.
Be cautious about what you share on social media and how much information is accessible to the general public. Refraining from social media entirely during any legal action is the best policy. While you are at it, Google yourself. What comes up? How much can an unhappy spouse, or an opposing attorney learn about you just from the internet? If you are contemplating ending your marriage or committed intimate relationship, consider contracting a family law lawyer at Lasher Holzapfel Sperry & Ebberson, PLLC for social media advice.