Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Have You Checked Your Facebook Lately?

I'm down here in beautiful Savannah, enjoying continuing legal education and the company of my colleagues and friends from around the country.  One of my friends commented that my blogging has been a bit spotty over the last few months, and he was wondering what was up.  This friend rarely "likes" any of my posts, and doesn't comment; he describes himself as a lurker on my blog.  I knew he read my blog on occasion, but until he told me this, I was not overtly aware that he was a regular reader.

I'm not only attending this conference, I am also presenting.  My topic is locating the military servicemember in order to start a family law case.  One of the methods I talked about was seeing if the servicemember has a Facebook page, Twitter account, or other social media account.  Lots of folks have them, and usually they have them well prior to a family law case being commenced.  Part of having these accounts is adding "friends" and building a community of contacts.  Most people never look at their friends list after they have added people to the list.  Some people never even set their privacy settings.  As a result, unless someone "likes" their posts, most people don't remember who is on their friends list, and thus, who has access to the information on their social media pages.  Many times, their spouse, friends of their spouse, family of their spouse, friends of friends of their spouse are seeing everything posted, and only if they're stupid are they "liking" or commenting online.  I know I have 237 friends on Facebook, and maybe fewer than 10 ever comment on or "like" my posts.  That means 227 people are seeing what I'm putting online, and saying nothing.  If my privacy settings weren't enabled, the world could see what I post.  Wow, what a treasure trove of potential evidence exists online!  As a attorney, I'm not allowed to create a phantom profile in order to be "friended" by the opposing party.  I am also not permitted to tell a client to remove their social media pages, because that would be destruction of evidence.  

In light of all of the above, what am I telling you?  Periodically review your privacy settings.  Periodically review who you have allowed to view your online social media, and edit it when there is a major life event that affects your social network and familial ties.  Be judicious about what you post online; don't post it if you don't want it to be the subject of your deposition or brought up in testimony in court.  Remember that everything you say can and will be used against you in your custody or divorce case.  Let the poster beware.  Here in the Trenches.

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