Your status updates can be used against you. At least, that’s what one family law judge is saying.
It’s becoming more and more common for evidence from social networking and dating sites to crop up in court cases relating to divorce and child custody. One recent case is making headlines in another state because the court mandated that the couple turn over Facebook and dating website passwords.
In this case, the husband says he saw incriminating things on the couple’s home computer and suspected there was similar evidence in his ex-wife’s social networking accounts, including things she said about her children.
At the end of September, the judge ordered both of them to hand over their Facebook and dating website passwords. The unusual circumstance here is that instead of using account pages or profiles as evidence, the judge sought private information authorized only by passwords.
The woman apparently agreed to exchange the information before the court order. She apparently called a friend immediately and asked that person to change the passwords and delete messages.
That prompted the judge to issue an injunction to prevent the woman from deleting any material and to order the ex-couple’s attorneys to exchange the spouses’ passwords.
This case raises several important questions: Does exchanging passwords generate privacy concerns? What about social sites should be considered “private” and what is public domain? These questions are going to be asked more and more as these cases become more common.
Source: Forbes, “Judge orders divorcing couple to swap Facebook and dating site passwords,” Kashmir Hill, Nov. 7, 2011