The social media giant Facebook is so popular that more than 1 million website users took time to post approvals of the recent marriage of the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. But according to recent surveys, the good fortune of Facebook’s founder is the misfortune of a lot of people who use the website.
More than 80 percent of divorce attorneys say they have seen a growing number of instances where social media data is used as evidence in divorce cases, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. More than one-third of U.K. divorce filings last year mentioned Facebook, according to a Divorce Online report.
The authors of “Facebook and Your Marriage” say it is no surprise that social media sites are so prominent in marital breakups. The high-tech communication capabilities of social networks provide fast tools for infidelity and other spousal escapades that were not available in the past. Reigniting relationships with old flames or sparking new romantic fires is as easy as “friending,” “poking,” “liking” or messaging.
Facebook users are encouraged to publicly post data and images. Privacy settings can hide only so much of a spouse’s activity. Reckless users give little thought to the online, easily accessible exposure of their personal lives. Some only find out when incriminating evidence, such as drunken party pictures or posts badmouthing an ex-spouse, ends up in alimony or child support hearings.
A judge in one recent divorce case ordered the spouses to submit their Facebook passwords to the court. The lawyers representing each spouse traded the information, so each attorney could view possible evidence in the couple’s online accounts.
One legal observer noted that just because a spouse has a convenient way to misbehave does not mean he or she has to take advantage of the opportunity to do so. Blaming Facebook for a user’s careless activities very well may be shooting the online messenger.