Many people routinely share personal details about their lives online, where countless numbers of people can see them. When you’re going through a divorce or other family law proceeding, it might be tempting to post insults about your ex or vent to your online “friends.” But keep in mind that unless you have configured privacy settings on your social media profiles, chances are your ex and his or her attorney also are reading your posts.
Most social media platforms offer users the option to restrict access to their information with privacy settings—but many people don’t restrict access. Even when users do restrict access, their information may still be available to other users.
Social media leaves a trail. Even content you think you have deleted might still be discoverable. Here are some privacy concerns to consider:
- Facebook offers a “check-in” feature that when activated provides the user’s location.
- Twitter allows users to “Tweet with a location” and enabling “Tweet privacy” only protects the privacy of future tweets, not those previously posted.
- Business accounts aren’t able to make their Instagram accounts private. If your personal Instagram account is set to private, only your approved followers will see your photos or videos on hashtag or location pages.
- YouTube’s default posting is public, but a user has the option to restrict the viewing audience.
- A LinkedIn profile is a public document for all LinkedIn members to view, and the only adjustment the user can make is to restrict views of the user’s profile from the general public who are not logged into LinkedIn.
Keep in mind that private posts you share to social networks may be visible to the public depending on your privacy settings for those networks. For example, a post you share to Twitter that was set to private on Instagram may be visible to the people who can see your Twitter posts.
There are many ways that social media data can be used in the context of a divorce or family law case, such as locating witnesses and documenting a party’s whereabouts at a particular time through pictures or other information. Online photos and videos can provide evidence about a party’s personal habits and finances. A user may post about a new job, large purchase or an expensive gift he just gave his new girlfriend. Facebook provides a download tool that creates a ZIP file of the user’s account, including friend lists, posts, messages, photos and video. Is a parent spending her time playing games when the children are with her? Such a download might provide that information. Social media posts also can highlight contradictions, such as a posting of a picture of marijuana when the party has denied using drugs. A party’s LinkedIn profile may contain evidence of earning capacity or employment prospects.
Keep in mind that individuals should not attempt to collect social media data from another person’s account, as there may be legal ramifications for doing so. If you believe it may be necessary to collect information from your spouse’s social media accounts to collect evidence for your divorce or time-sharing case, your attorney will advise you regarding the appropriate manner by which to obtain that information.
Given the legal ramifications of collecting evidence on social media, it is extremely important to hire an attorney who can advise you on best practices for using social media during your divorce or family law case. The attorneys at Nicole L. Goetz, P.L. have experience with these issues and can assist you throughout the entire process. To schedule a confidential consultation and receive more information about your options, please contact our office in Naples, Florida at 239-325-5030.
The information provided on law and legal topics is designed for general information only and does not constitute nor should it be considered legal advice. It is not a substitute nor should it be considered a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney knowledgeable about your specific factual situation.