- (Photo: AP Images / The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld)
A Connecticut divorce judge ordered a splitting couple to share their Facebook account passwords.
The injured husband, Stephen Gallion, of New London, accused his wife Courtney Gallion of writing incriminating posts on Facebook about her feelings towards their children and her ability to care for them on the couple's shared home computer.
The wife was also ordered to hand over passwords for her extramarital eHarmony and Match accounts.
In March, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in the past five years found 80 percent of divorce cases included social media posts, mostly from Facebook, extending even beyond written posts to pictures spouses uploaded.
"There has been an exploding trend that posts are relevant to a divorce case. Communications are relevant to a divorce case. Pictures relating to a child endangerment or child custody are relevant to a divorce case," said attorney and social media analyst Brian Lameroux. "All of the things we see on Facebook such as wall postings are now fodder for divorce for information that can give lawyers leverage."
Police, prosecutors, health insurers, and lawyers are increasingly mining social networking websites, GPS locations, check-ins, and mobile photos for evidence to prosecute crimes, investigate fraud, and even determine jury selection.
Some may see the judge's order case as a subjective court-sanctioned invasion of privacy, but others see it as a necessary and reasonable step to cutting through messy divorce cases.
“The court is following the population's fascination with the technology and ruling as it sees fit, and the increasing prevalence of Facebook and social media will ensure the subject will likely be one courts will wrestle with in the future,” said Margaret Rock on Mobiledia.
Some observers warned couples to be careful of what you post online that could potentially damage relationships.
“Too many people forgot that their private life is in reality, in public. Social networking website is the classic example,” said one commentator named Louis on the Time’s blog. “[Facebook] is more public than an isolated park.”