Twittering and Facebook and Your Case (by Mary Elizabeth Davis)

Posted on Oct 26, 2009 by Hofheimer Family Law

It astounds me that people fail to realize how accessible private information can be on the Internet. People post private pictures on Facebook, Myspace, or other sites and fail to limit general access to them. I've seen plenty of pictures of young parents drinking and partying, oblivious to the effect these pictures would have in a custody case. Even posting cute pictures of your child might give a pedophile information about finding the child, putting your child at risk.

Prior to posting information on the internet, think to yourself:

1. Who has access to this information? Protect your photos, allowing only those you have selected to view them. If you are on Facebook, for example, you can allow only certain friends to see your family photos. You might limit those albums from casual acquaintances or business contacts.

2. What could someone do with this information? Posting pictures of your child's cheer or sport team, and the children's names, on an account like Flickr could allow a pedophile to show up at a practice and appear to know a child. "Your mom sent me to pick you up" is a lot more convincing to a child when you know her name and the name of her friends.

3. How could this information hurt me? My favorite cautionary tale is about the guy who took off work for "a family emergency" and showed up in pictures on a social-networking site dressed up as a fairy at a Halloween party. (Tinkerbell lost his job.)

4. Where will this information surprise me? No attorney wants to be surprised in court with pictures of your "just my friend" in pajamas in a cozy family photo with your kids. "No, he doesn't sleep over" just won't ring true. Similarly, information you post could make someone question your judgment and parenting skills.

My best advice if you are in a contested case, particularly a custody case? Don't post it.