First, enjoy this short, award winning 1950’s style PSA video on social media and relationships:
This video was done all the way back in 2009 – it was spot on then and even more so now.
We’re posting this to show, in the most fun way we can think of, that when it comes to being involved in a family law matter – any family law matter – social media is not your friend. It can never help, it can only hurt.
Until a few years ago, family law attorneys used to tell clients to stay off social media until their matters were settled. Fully settled.
No one really asks that anymore because it’s just plain unrealistic. In 2020, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. are too much a part of everyone’s lives to ask people to forgo posting. The science is against it, it any event: it’s been shown over and over, in study after study, that using social media produces dopamine and other ‘positive’ brain chemicals – asking someone to give up Facebook would be like asking them to give up coffee or Ben & Jerry’s for the duration of their divorce case.
So now . . . now, we just ask clients to be aware of some of the realities of social media, act accordingly, and take proper precautions.
Almost since the advent of Facebook, courts have recognized social media as evidence. Every year we see more and more cases from all areas of the law won or lost or dramatically impacted by a post of some kind. Recently, a woman in California had an $800,000 personal injury award reversed after a Facebook post emerged – seems that two days after her injury she posted “Best day of my life!”
It may not have been a problem, may have been taken for sarcasm if not for the fact she posted from a water park.
Don’t laugh, all her privacy settings were set correctly. It only took an annoyed “friend” taking a screenshot and sending it to the defendant’s attorney to cause problems.
That brings us to our most important point – nothing you post anywhere – even Snapchat – is ever really deleted. Even if you delete it yourself. Every post can be preserved forever with a screen save – something that takes less time than a normal heartbeat. There are now forensic social media ‘miners’ who have methods for finding deleted posts.
Also, this: sarcasm plays very poorly, especially on Twitter; and, it’s very, very easy to take Tweets and Facebook captions out of context (completely).
Here’s what we ask: don’t post anything about your case, or anything that can be taken for a comment on your case, your children, your soon-to-be-ex. Rule of thumb: if you feel uneasy, if you have the slightest hesitation about how something will be taken, don’t send it.
Assume, as well, that everything you post is being read, even if you’re DMing a good friend. That’s not paranoia, it’s just good sense. The most innocent comment taken out of context can ruin a mediation or negotiation and make you start almost from scratch again.
Unlike Alice and Timmy, let’s be smart out there.