Although most people consider logging into Facebook an easy way to kill some time or take a break, something much more dangerous might be going on than just checking in with relatives and friends.
Facebook may truly be the kiss of death when it comes to the health of your marriage.
Casual online chats with co-workers and reconnecting with high school sweethearts provide a spark of excitement that often feels lacking in the tedious routines that married people tend to follow day in and day out.
Venting to someone online about our marital frustrations and disappointments can fuel the fires of our disillusionment with marriage and lead to emotional affairs that soon become physical. What starts out as a simple craving for appreciation, sympathy and admiration can rapidly ignite into something far more deadly.
Extramarital affairs might have taken months or even years to develop in the past, but with Facebook, Snap chat and other social networks your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend is just a click away, says New York-based divorce financial strategist Jeff Landers, author of Divorce: Think Financially, Not Emotionally.
When marriages go through rocky patches and people do seek support, temptation has never been closer, he adds. “You can easily reconnect with an old boyfriend or girlfriend from college online,” Landers says. “It all starts innocently enough, but the next thing you know you are meeting for coffee and the next thing you know you’re having an affair.”
How common is the link between Facebook and Divorce?
A third of all divorce filings in 2011 contained the word “Facebook,” according to Divorce Online. And more than 80 percent of U.S. divorce attorneys say social networking in divorce proceedings is on the rise, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Not only can Facebook lead to marital affairs, Facebook also provides a rich ongoing source of evidence that can be influential when used by attorneys throughout the divorce process.
During the time I worked as a family law paralegal, I saw client files crammed full of print-outs of Facebook posts and pictures supplied to attorneys to use as evidence for discovery, depositions and trial.
Even if your spouse is not spying on your Facebook page during divorce, you still could be at risk. Seasoned attorneys and investigators search for information and pictures that substantiate their clients’ cases and even ‘friend’ those who are closest to the person they are tracking through Facebook.
Since so many people use Facebook as their personal daily diary, they don’t realize the risk they are taking during separation and divorce. Updates and pictures you shared months ago can be used as legal evidence to prove infidelity, financial misconduct and lack of skills in parenting.
Just what CAN you do to protect yourself on Facebook?
Carefully consider what could be turned against you before you log in to write a post or share a picture.
Use the privacy settings within your account to restrict who is able to see your page and be very cautious when deciding whether to accept new friend requests.
Deactivating your Facebook profile page is another way to avoid accidentally providing information that you’d rather keep out of the legal fireworks.
And when your divorce is final, Facebook makes it easy to restore your complete personal profile with just a few clicks.
Like Chia Pets and annoying Viagra commercials, Facebook never really goes away.