These days, many of us turn to one social networking site or another to reunite with old friends, former classmates and others from our past. While these sites have been successful in helping rebuild some lost relationships, they also have been credited recently with helping to dissolve others.
An article by Martin Di Caro posted on NJ1015.com on June 30, 2010, stated, “The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says 81 percent of its members have faced or seen evidence in divorce cases gleaned from social networking or dating sites like Facebook, Myspace, or match.com.” (1)
An earlier article by Sue Epstein written for The Star Ledger (March 21, 2010) cited the case of a divorced New Jersey couple who were still trying to work out custody of their teenager. During this time, the girl posted a photo on Facebook of her and her friends partying. The teen’s mother used the photo to support her argument that the father was “too permissive.” (2)
In another New Jersey case, a wife found her husband on dating sites where his profile claimed that he was unmarried and had no children. She was able to use this information in court because her husband had lied in a public forum.
People don’t seem to realize that posting photos or comments on these social networking sites could come back to harm them in the future. They think they are sharing this information only with friends when, in fact, others can and do gain access to the information.
Ms. Epstein’s article quoted Jennifer Gibbs, assistant professor from Rutgers University School of Communications and Information, who conducted a study on social networking and relationships. Ms. Gibbs attributed the fact that “you’re not face-to-face” as a reason why people divulge so much information on these sites. Because of this, people have little idea whether or not what they are saying is acceptable. “That leads to increased self-disclosure and very little self-correction,” according to Gibbs. (2)
These internet sites can give people a false feeling of privacy and intimacy. The fact is that in some cases even innocent posting can be used against you at a later date.