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Can Social Media Cause Divorce?

Date: January 12th, 2011 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

Over the last twenty years, communication between people has gone from being relatively private (by letter or phone call) to being very public (such as via Facebook and Twitter).  Depending on the settings of a person’s Twitter or Facebook account, their online comments could be viewed by all their online friends, or very possibly, viewed by anyone on the internet.  So, whilst people update their statuses, thoughts and feelings online every day, they are potentially living out their lives in a very public manner.  And whilst it may be fine to announce a new job or a happy holiday on a Facebook page, publishing details of relationship troubles ‘for all to see’ can certainly risk exaggerating any strains on that relationship.

Social Media websites have also introduced a level of immediacy to people’s communications.  Twenty years ago, a spouse might have waited to see their partner in order to vent their frustration about a particular issue.  By waiting, they would have had time to reflect on the situation and possibly calm down.  Traditionally what was said in a marriage was behind closed doors.  Now, however, those frustrations can be immediately typed and published online.  A spouse’s online, but off-the-cuff, remark about their partner might soon be forgotten by the person who wrote it, but their ‘digital footprint’ of past comments will live online for much longer.

Using social media to ‘re-connect’ could be a recipe for divorce

These days it’s easier than ever to re-connect with old friends and old flames.  People that previously would never have been re-introduced are now finding each other online and as a result, potentially rekindling old affections.  Even if those new relationships with old friends are entirely platonic, suspicious spouses are now being given the ammunition they need to question their relationships.

However, there have been many other instances where the suspicious spouse has been proven correct and their partner’s online comments have been the evidence that has given the game away.  It’s not surprising therefore, that more and more people are being reported to cite Facebook in their divorce petitions.  In fact, this has opened up a new market in the software sector, where companies are providing ‘snooping’ software so a suspicious spouse can track their partner’s online activity.

The younger generation has grown up knowing nothing other than using Facebook and Twitter as a form of public communication.  So if this current trend of people living out their lives online continues, it seems likely that as this generation marries, their marriages may well be under public gaze throughout their lives.

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