One of Australia’s most popular guilty pleasures at present is social media. Whether it is Facebook that keeps you from having an early night, or Snapchat and Instagram that occupies your lunch break, social media has undeniably cemented itself into our society and has no intention of leaving.
Social media is used as a form of communication: to share photographs of memorable occasions with loved ones; to get back in touch with an old school friend; or even to seek advice and support from friends and family. However, studies show that more and more account holders are using social media as a means of psychotherapy, by venting to a selective group of individuals with the intention of relieving the burden of everyday stress. So where is the risk?
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as “too much information”: especially in family law proceedings. It has been a recent trend that social media users pour their hearts out seeking advice and guidance from family and friends. It is often easier to write down your thoughts and quite exciting when a fellow social media user responds with a comment supporting your remarks. However, in the heat of the moment, sensitive information is often
divulged without the user realising. This in turn creates a chain reaction where another party, whether it be the one at the centre of the piece or a third party individual, responds to the initial comment and an “online war” begins. Comment after comment, and insult after insult, results in high levels of tension between the two parties who are going through the family law proceeding, which only adds extra stress to their current situation.
Further, recent legislative changes have introduced powers allowing the Courts to hear evidence of any information published on the internet. This means that if a current family law proceeding is on foot, it is important not to discuss the details of the case or disparage the other party, as the information published may be obtained and used against you in Court. Recently, photographs of a woman, partying with her friends, and with a drink in her hand, was used in Court to attack the credibility of the mother’s character and her ability to care for her children. Although this was objected to by the mother’s lawyers it is a clear example of how important it is to be mindful of what you post and upload online.
A final factor to consider is adjusting your privacy settings on your social media accounts to ensure that your account is not visible to the general public. Further, it is also recommended that each social media user frequently review their list of friends and that you remove any individual with whom you no longer communicate. This will ensure that you have complete access of who is viewing your file and the contents placed on it.
For more information on social media risks in family law, or if you require legal advice on a family law matter, please contact our office on (03) 9408 8832.