Many people don’t realize that social media can have a direct impact
on their legal cases, including proceedings in family court. Most people
are unaware of this reality. Social media is still a relatively new phenomenon.
It’s important to understand the repercussions and realities surrounding
these new public communication platforms, especially if you are facing
a legal issue such as a family law matter, including a
dispute, and / or
Social media is a part of our lives now. Studies show that approximately
65% of men and women—and 89% of people under age 30—who have
Internet access utilize social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter,
Foursquare, MySpace, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. Some people also
keep public blogs on platforms such as WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger.
Many people think that these social media accounts are relatively private.
They view these accounts as conversations between friends. This is not
entirely accurate, however. Anything published on the Internet is there
“for good.” It can be accessed and it can be used against
you and / or your loved ones in a trial.
Family lawyers have been known to utilize social media posts and comments as evidence
in family court. It’s extremely important to be careful about the
information you release on these platforms.
But What If My Account Is Set to “Private?”
Just because your account has privacy settings in place doesn’t mean
that you are safe. One of your friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter
or Instagram, or other online connections could access a post and pass
it along to someone who could use it against you in a case.
What Do I Need to Be Aware Of?
It’s not just posts you write about the case specifically that could
damage your results. You may also be affected by:
- Posts made by others about your case
- Comments written about a spouse or child
- Facebook “rants” about the case, spouse, child’s parent,
or other individual involved
- Pictures of expensive purchases, which could affect a property division,
alimony, and / or child support case
- Pictures you post or pictures you are tagged in depicting “partying”
or alcohol use; which, even if innocent, could be misinterpreted by a
court and affect a custody case
Don’t make the mistake of posting something you will later regret.
Write your thoughts down in a Microsoft Word document—or on paper,
the old fashioned way—before you post anything to social media.
Give yourself the chance to cool off before publishing something that
could come back to bite you. When you feel the need to vent about the
frustrations of your case, call a close, trusted friend.
Keep Your Social Media “Safe”
This is some general advice for protecting yourself from anything unfortunate
arising in your family court case as a result of social media. Make sure
to “untag” yourself from photos that could be misinterpreted.
Delete comments or posts made by others on your social media accounts
in regards to your family or your case. Encourage your loved ones not
to discuss the situation online. Remove and “block” people
from your friends and followers lists who are not sympathetic. Change
all of your passwords, including passcodes for your phone and computer.
Reinsure the security / privacy settings of your accounts. Remember, it’s
always better to be on the safe side with social media.