Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Privacy Please

Privacy, Please

            What you post on Facebook can be used against you in a court of law. Did you really think that Facebook status or Tweet about your soon to be ex-spouse would never be seen again? Think again. In today’s court room, family law attorneys are using social media outlets, e-mails, and texts as evidence, against the opposing party.
            In the past, young people were warned to never write anything in a letter or anyplace else that they would be ashamed to see as a headline in the next day’s newspaper. Obviously, times have changed. Social media is overflowing with news of celebrity activity. Reality shows on television are highly popular. Now many peoples’ greatest desire is to become famous and to have all aspects of their lives as an open book.
            However, as Charlie Sheen, Britney Spears, and some others have found to their sorrow, when they are in court, incidents in their private lives that at one time seemed like an amusing lark look very different when their ability to spend time with or raise their children is at issue.
            Peoples’ personal lives are increasingly being examined in the court room through social media outlets that they have themselves created. Facebook posts are not private. A teacher from Georgia recently lost her job because a school board member somehow saw a post on her Facebook with a picture of her, drink in hand, and a reference to partying.
            E-mail messages, text messages, and Twitter can all be brought into the court under the appropriate circumstances.  One cannot assume that messages in which a spouse vents about their partner’s behavior, exults in a goings-on during a lost weekend, or shares information about a negligent incident with a child, will not be put before a Judge for consideration. Also, if you leave an angry or vulgar message on your spouse’s phone, you could end up in court feeling quite embarrassed as the judge listens to that message. Unpleasant messages that convey a threat can be the basis for entry of domestic violence injunction against you.
            Currently, e-mails, texts, and other forms of technological communication, are part of many peoples’ daily lives. The old adage, “How would you like to read this as a front page headline tomorrow?”, is still applicable. No one anticipates being involved in litigation that includes scrutiny of their private life. However, thinking twice before sharing graphic pictures and you most raw feelings with others can save much grief in the future. 

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