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?


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.


1.     

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.


2.     

Keep it professional.  Don’t discuss your personal

feelings of negativity with any one person or thing.


3.     

Talk about your socially acceptable passions for

not-for-profits like Blood Drives, marathons, chili suppers, and donations of

goods to those without.


4.     

Don’t talk about drinking, alcohol, or partying.  Your

boss, or potential employer, could be reading your page too.


5.     

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.”

1 comment about "Social Media is a Scary Beast in the hands of a good attorney".
  1. katherine , October 5, 2011 at 1:24 p.m.
    What is interesting to me is that social media and privacy might be driving people to a more civil community. Your tips for "dos" and "don'ts" online is about respecting others, the timing of expressing yourself, not exploiting yourself—basically, values of humanism. So, why is it that the threat of a digital past action coming back to haunt them, is the reason we are now regulating our behavior? My implication is that we might be changing our future behavior in the light of the possibility it will be publicized. Are we all under a celebrity spotlight? On one hand, people might think twice before cheating on their husband/wife, or announcing their every feeling on Facebook. However, what is wrong with this? The major reason I see, is that people will make mistakes, that is what makes us human. However, are our faults supposed to publicly displayed? Your image online is mostly controlled by yourself, but for example, with Facebook's new Timeline, it seems that privacy will be invaded. Sites that you visit will show up on your profile page. The main point is that we might be losing the chance of changing ourselves. If we are always living in the past, pointing a finger at how someone messed up five years ago, we are losing our future.