As we embark on the new decade and reflect back on 2009, it's clear that 2009 was a watershed year for social networks.
We've seen major changes at sites like Facebook and Twitter as millions of non-technical users became regular users. Social networks no longer featured posts with reams and reams of drivel -- like telling people what kind of sandwich you had for lunch or about the great parking space you grabbed near the gym. Instead, they were used far more to let the world learn about everything from politics to current affairs and for myself, family law issues.
Users have expanded greatly from the traditional teenage and college student set. It now includes many of their parents and even grandparents who now use the technology as a primary mode of communication. Even though it may have been embarrassing for the kids involved to have their Uncle Joe befriend them on Facebook.
It seems like this trend has even had an impact on divorce. What would you do if the first time you heard your spouse wanted a divorce was when you read about it on Facebook? Would you file for divorce if you learned that your partner was cheating on you by having inappropriate sexual chats with other people on Facebook or other social networking sites?
The immense popularity of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites has had consequences that few people may have thought about when these Internet websites first hit cyberspace. One is the virtually unlimited possibilities it presents to seek and connect with other people for the purpose of having an affair; another is the opportunities it presents for divorce attorneys to use any evidence they find on such social networking sites to settle a case for their clients.
Many divorce lawyers are warning their clients about the use of these sites as they are a potential minefield for gathering incriminating evidence. Some individuals may even want to consider closing down their sites, especially if they contain any incriminating photos or information, such as photos of themselves with a girlfriend or boyfriend or using drugs.
Facebook and other social networking sites are being blamed for a rising number of divorces. There are claims by many divorce lawyers that nearly 20 percent of the petitions they process have cited Facebook. The most common reason - Partners are having inappropriate sexual cyber chats with people they are not supposed to, a form of virtual infidelity. The disclosure of highly personal information on Facebook and other social networking sites is bad enough when two adults decide they need to call it quits, but when there are children involved and child custody, the situation can get ugly and complicated.
Children often have no problem finding anything they want on the Internet, including humiliating information about their parents. So keep this in mind as important advice for people who are going through a divorce. You may want to shut down your Facebook and other social networking sites and refrain from posting any personal information or opinions online. However, it seems that when people are confused and distraught, social networking is a way to vent their feelings. It may be cheaper than going to a therapist, but the consequences may be more costly than they ever imagined.