Advice from a divorce attorney ... PAY ATTENTION!
Especially in contentious divorces, social media accounts can yield a substantial amount of information for divorce investigators. I spoke with Boston divorce attorney David Wilkinson about the issue, and he provided a simple checklist of social media do's and don'ts (let's be honest — this is almost all don'ts) that can help you protect yourself during a divorce.
1. Review your privacy and security settings.
All accounts should be set to private, rather then public. It's also a good idea to turn off location data on Twitter, to avoid logs of where you are and where you have been when tweeting.
2. Change all your passwords.
While it is a crime to access another person's Facebook or other social media account without permission (under Section 2701 of the Stored Communications Act) you can't always trust other parties to act rationally or lawfully during a divorce. Remove this possibility by changing your passwords to all accounts.
3. Never 'friend' anyone on Facebook that you do not know.
Anyone is entitled to view another person's Facebook page with permission by friending them. As a result, divorcing parties and their agents will go through great lengths to gain access. The favorite method is creating a phony Facebook user and enticing a friendship online. Facebook even acknowledged that over 83 million Facebook accounts are duplicate or false accounts. The same goes for your friends and family. Gaining access to them may help investigators gain access to you.
4. Do not 'tweet' anything or send any "Snapchat" photos.
Twitter is the ultimate hot take say-anything social media platform. Users often post messages that they don't fully think through or expect anyone to ever read. Make no mistake, however, tweets can be used in court as a party "admission" — and attorneys monitor the accounts of the opposing party for information. Software exists that allows investigators to find Snapchat photos and messages that were supposedly deleted. These communications can be used as evidence in court.
5. Disable your Linkedin account or review the listing to ensure accuracy.
Divorcing parties can find educational and work history of any person that maintains an account. Be sure that your account doesn't significantly overstate your employment or earning ability or impeach what you have disclosed in your divorce case.
6. Do a Google search for every variation of your name, including a search for images.
Doing an exhaustive Google search can help you find accounts, photos, and website mentions of your person that you may have forgotten about or didn't even know exist. You may be able to take down some or at least not be blindsided by them in court.
7. Be careful what you text when going through a divorce.
According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), text messages are one of the top three elements of electronic evidence used in divorce court. It should always be assumed that the content of a text message will be printed and shown to the family law judge.
Bottom line: divorce is a great time to pull back, lay low, and live as privately as possible — offline.