Social Media is a Scary Beast in the hands of a good attorney
FaceBook is now in the top ten for devices used in making
a decision to divorce and was used as a form of evidence in 46% of all divorces
across the country last year. Just know that whatever you say, can, and will be
used against in you in a court of law when you are dumb enough to post it
online. Every day I watch news stories about police finding a culprit because
of tips derived from reading FaceBook postings. I must say, when I was 18-23
like most of my college aged peers, I was posting things on myspace and other
social media sites that I would never do today. But 10-15 years ago, no one
thought that the use of the sites would incriminate or implicate them in so many
matters civil or criminal.
Is this what your facebook page looks like?
I had two FaceBook profiles: one for personal and one for
business. Because of personal litigation I am going through right now, I
decided to shut one down. It had nothing to do with the truth of what I had
posted but how it could be manipulated to make me appear. When it comes to
matters of Family Law, which is a primary focus of mine in school and in
business as a Divorce Mediator, the truth is rarely what is sought after in
court. It sounds high and noble to seek the truth. In all actuality though, in
the middle of a divorce or custody battle, it has so much more to do with
appearances. Don’t get me wrong. The truth should still be on your side but
you can guarantee that if the truth doesn’t “appear” to have the same effect as
an understanding of the truth, it won’t help you.
Let me get to an example. A man seeking custody of his
kids and has nothing posted on FaceBook can’t have anything used against him.
His ex though posts 20 times a day. She could be a great mother or she may not
be. What an attorney could do is persuade the judge to show that even though
she has the kids, she spends more time with her computer. Then we get to the
substance of her posts. Every other weekend, when she doesn’t have the kids,
she goes out with friends and posts pictures of her bar crawl journeys online.
Even though she isn’t drinking around the kids, the appearance is that she is a
party girl who drinks like a fish while her ex sits at home waiting on when he
might ever get to see his kids again. Let’s not forget to add that she
regularly throws out an F bomb in frustration in her daily rantings on FaceBook.
While her ex may curse like a sailor, there is no proof of it but mom is a
raging alcoholic party girl who spends more time online than with her kids. As
the appearance of each parent slowly grows in the evidentiary hearing, so does
the bias of the judge. It is natural. They cannot be faulted for it. It is
simply human nature to deduce a person’s credibility that way. It may not be
perfect but that is how it is done.
So here are my 5 top tips.
Keep your profiles private with the idea that everyone
can still read them, especially your grandmother who will give all of her money
away to the grandchild she thinks is the most moral grandchild.
Keep it professional. Don’t discuss your personal
feelings of negativity with any one person or thing.
Talk about your socially acceptable passions for
not-for-profits like Blood Drives, marathons, chili suppers, and donations of
goods to those without.
Don’t talk about drinking, alcohol, or partying. Your
boss, or potential employer, could be reading your page too.
Don’t be sarcastic. Sarcasm is difficult to interpret
in text and often makes you look bad. As I was taught, “A sarcastic person has
a superiority complex that can be cured only by the honesty of humility.”