The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media During a Divorce
In 2020, everything is online. Shared calendars, logged in email accounts on family computers, Find My Friends, Uber receipts, and tons of other online applications can make or break facts and evidence in a divorce proceeding. So, what, exactly, should you do to clean up your online presence during divorce proceedings? Here are a few helpful tips and tricks to make sure your online presence doesn’t sink your case.
- DO unfriend your soon to be ex-spouse, or at the very least, block them from seeing your content. This should be done as soon as you have decided to separate. This could lead to a potentially uncomfortable conversation, but there is no reason why you should allow your soon to be ex-spouse to continue to monitor your online presence and potentially gather evidence on you. This is a difficult, but necessary step. Depending on your situation, it also might be necessary to block their closest friends and allies from seeing your content, or just delete them altogether. However, DON’T delete your past content all together, as this could be spoliation of evidence. Often, a forensic scientist can find it anyways.
- DO Change your privacy settings. If you had a public Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat, FourSquare, LinkedIn, Uber, Lyft, or Venmo account, make them private. Make sure all new posts are on the highest privacy settings available, including disabling yourself from being tagged in other people’s pictures and posts. This is often a step people miss and is a way for your soon to be ex to see what you are doing from other people’s pages.
- DO Disable all location settings. This can be done by going into your phone settings and disabling location on all your apps. This will ensure that your location tag will not automatically post when you open any app.
- DO sign out of all your email, social media, and calendar accounts on all shared devices, including your kids. There is no reason why you should give your soon to be ex-spouse access to your private accounts. You should also change all your usernames and passwords.
- DON’T rely on your privacy settings to shield you. Changing your account to private typically doesn’t prevent a judge from creating an order to review your accounts, email, or texts if there are reports of harassment, lying, or bragging by the other party. As such, it is imperative that you always think before you post or send a message to anyone- you never know who is going to screenshot and send it to your ex (and you will be surprised as to who would).
- DON’T add any new friends on any social media sites unless you are positive you know and can trust them. It takes about 5 minutes to create a fake account and most people accept followers they don’t know because they don’t care who can see their profile. This should not be the case for people going through a divorce.
- DON’T send emails, texts, write posts, or any written statements regarding your case to anyone except your lawyers. If you really can’t resist gossiping with your friends, try not to disclose anything that you would regret being presented as evidence in front of a judge. This is a good general rule for all social media in general. And if you think you might be safe to discuss the case in an online chat room, message board, or blog- you’re not. This also goes for your closest friends and family- ask them to refrain from disparaging your soon to be ex, as this could negatively impact you in court.
- DON’T post personal updates. Keep your thoughts to yourself for the remainder of the divorce proceeding. If you need to talk to your friends, do it in person. Do not post negative updates, thoughts, or insults, as these ill certainly be used against you once you’re in front of a judge. Also, refrain from showcasing a new relationship or joining a dating site.
- DON’T rage text your ex, or better yet, don’t communicate about your relationship or the case at all. If it’s necessary to communicate with your ex about your kids, keep all communication BIFF- brief, informative, friendly, and focused. Anything and everything you send to them can be put into evidence.
- DON’T try to spy on your soon to be ex. Apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn show who has viewed your profile. Leave the private investigating for your attorney.
While you should at minimum, follow the above tips, the best advice is to refrain from using social media altogether for the remainder of the proceedings. The bottom line is- don’t post, say, or do anything that you wouldn’t want a judge to see. You should assume everything you do online or on your phone will be found and seen. If you’re debating whether sharing, commenting, liking, or posting something is a good idea, just don’t do it.