More divorces these days are being blamed on Facebook. It seems that connecting, or reconnecting, with friends can lave a pretty ugly snowball effect. According to a UK divorce website, 1 in every 5 divorce suits filed mention Facebook. Whether it’s a wall post that you thought was private or a session you forgot to log out of, Facebook activity can get married people caught up.
It used to be other tell-tale signs that got married people in trouble, such as perfume on the clothes or a phone number left in a pocket. Then it was email and text messages. Now it’s Facebook.
Not only does Facebook provide an opportunity for married people to seek the company of others, but it also gives suspecting spouses an opportunity to dig into some research of their own. They can find information out about their cheating spouse or the person they suspect has taken their spouse’s attention.
As Facebook becomes increasingly open as a platform, a simple wall post can be taken out of context. Certain aspects of Facebook, such as group messages, also operate differently from mechanisms we’re already familiar with (i.e. email). When receiving a group message, for instance, hitting the reply button sends a response to the entire group–not just the individual that initiatlly sent the message. Facebook doesn’t make this very clear, and many a cheating spouse has been caught up in their efforts to remain discrete on what was once considered the most private social network of all.
There’s also the legal system to consider. As Facebook becomes more prevelant in our culture, it also becomes more accessible to the courts and legal authorities. You can be supeonaed via Facebook, or you can provide an alibi. The legal connections to Facebook mean that activity done on the social networking site can be accessed by the court for evidence purposes. That includes divorce court. If you get caught for cheating, your Facebook activity could be used against you.
Keep that in mind when doing dirty things on Facebook. Yes, it does appear that there is some level of Big Brother that is able to track everything you do.
The legal ramifications of current social networking behavior brings up several concerns around privacy and the ability to access that privatly shared information. Facebook is becoming so much a part of our daily lives that is it an unavoidable topic in court. Facebook is a means of communication, and when it comes to cheating, Facebook becomes a means to a different set of ends. That means the court systems have no choice but to catch up. Some disputes can’t be dealt with outside of legal aid.
Twitter is another social network that’s finding itself in the middle of certain court disputes. It’s a difficult milestone to deal with, considering the consequences of having to work more directly with courts to provide personal information. Yet it’s becoming a standard byproduct of our social networking activity, relatively unavoidable in this day and age.
I doubt that the growing concern around this topic will change much behavior–human nature has a way of finding whatever alternative it needs. But it’s still good to think about, no matter what you’re doing online.