NAVIGATING SOCIAL MEDIA DURING DIVORCE: AVOIDING TMI IN THE INFORMATION AGE
by Patricia C. Palmer, Paralegal
The world is more connected than ever. Thanks to social networking websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Myspace, you can reconnect with your childhood best friend, first romance or college roommate. But you can also see pictures of your estranged spouse looking cozy with someone new or read his or her status of going out to dinner with friends when you were told he or she could not make the children’s soccer game because of work.
If you are going through a divorce, you need to navigate with caution when using social media. You should assume that every tweet or status update could be used against you. Even if you “de-friend” your spouse, it is still possible that your spouse will see your personal page. You can make sure your privacy settings are at the highest level, but there are still mutual friends, acquaintances or family who can access your page and share the information with your spouse.
Below are some things to think about when using social media while going through a divorce:
- Consider going “dark.” It may seem very archaic in the day of having any information we want right at our fingertips, but removing yourself from Facebook or similar sites is the only way to be sure that you have no status updates or online pictures that can be used against you in your upcoming litigation.
- Think twice and twice again about everything you post. Assume that a seemingly innocuous post will be interpreted in the worst way. For example, a picture of you giving a toast with a champagne glass at your cousin’s wedding seems pretty safe. However, your spouse may say it is an example of your heavy drinking in front of your children who were with you at the wedding and that you probably drove them home drunk. Your spouse may use this against you in several ways, including as an example of why he or she believes that you do not make good decisions regarding the children. Always think of the worst case scenario.
- Contemplate who your “friends” and “followers” are. If you decide to remain on social media websites, you should take a long look at your friend lists and consider removing access to anyone who you feel will share your information with your spouse. Bear in mind that anyone who has knowledge of information you have shared online could be subpoenaed to testify in your divorce or custody proceedings.
- Monitor your privacy settings. Privacy and security settings are constantly changing on social media websites and you need to check them frequently. You should make sure you are using the most secure settings so you can limit who has access to what information on your page.
- Never share any attorney-client communications. Your status update or tweet should never include the words “my attorney said.” Not only is it poor judgment to share the legal advice you receive with others, you could potentially be waiving attorney-client privilege by sharing this information with the world.
Keeping these tips in mind can make using social media during your divorce a little less treacherous. For more information, contact your attorney with any questions you have regarding use of social networking sites and your case.