A divorce website based in the U.K. conducted a survey of 5,000 people and found that one third of participants reported 3 reasons for citing social networking Facebook as a factor in their divorce petitions, made in 2011.
Reasons for citing Facebook as a factor in their divorce petition include a spouse sending inappropriate flirty messages to the opposite sex, posting negative comments about their spouse, and disclosing private information about their spouse.
The survey underscores how our private and public worlds are merging in sometimes uncomfortable ways, and highlights the importance of maintaining privacy and discretion when using social networking sites to connect and engage in ‘frictionless’ sharing’. Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+ all encourage people to freely share their experiences, feelings, and opinions, because that is the service they provide, to help users connect and interact online. However, many users do not have an adequate understanding of when posts are private, when public, which is not so surprising for Facebook users given its increasingly complicated privacy policies, and ever morphing interface.
Social media postings are increasing as these websites become more popular and as they become more common, these posts are also being scrutinized and used as evidence in divorce and custody cases. A judge in Connecticut, for example, recently ruled that a couple must share their social media passwords with each other, which makes even murkier the question of ‘who is sharing what…with who’?
Divorce-Online expert Mark Keenan stressed the importance of caution when using social networking websites: “People need to be careful what they write on their walls, as the courts are seeing these posts being used in financial disputes and children cases as evidence.”