Online Privacy Concerns
Online privacy concerns during a divorce or custody case
It’s not uncommon, when a couple is about to divorce, that one party
will try to collect information or find leverage over the other. They
may try to access your Facebook or email accounts, check your online bank
statements, or review your Internet search history. It is important to
take steps to secure your accounts and computer to protect your information
from being used against you.
First, change all your passwords
At the beginning of any divorce proceeding, it is a good idea to change
all passwords to social media, bank, investment, and e-mail accounts.
Even if you did not share joint accounts with the other party, it might
have been possible for the other party to obtain your passwords and account
Don’t use a shared computer
If you are using a computer in a home shared with the other party, keep
in mind that he/she might try to review the search history on that device
to see what websites you are accessing. Even if you have cleared the search
history, software can be installed to track your actions on a shared computer
or tablet. Software can also be installed to track and record your keystrokes
on a computer or tablet, revealing private information like your passwords
or email communications.
Social media is NOT private
Your communications on social media sites may be seen by a much larger
audience than you intend. When a Facebook friend “likes” a
post on your page, there is a possibility that others who are not friends
with you on Facebook can see that post. Or your Facebook friends may share
things you have posted on Facebook, which could be visible to their entire
network. Someone might check you in at locations on Facebook or tag you
in photos without your permission. You can adjust your privacy settings
set to block some of these types of actions.
It is critical to keep track of and update your privacy settings for Facebook
and other social media sites that you continue to use during your case.
Keep in mind that Facebook and other social media sites frequently change
options for their privacy settings.
Beware fake friends and shared friends
It’s also not uncommon for a party during a divorce or custody proceeding
to set up a fake Facebook or Twitter account in order to try to track
your actions. Be wary of accepting Facebook friend requests from individuals
that you do not know or that you have not heard from for some time.
Also keep in mind that you and your spouse likely have shared friends.
This makes it much more likely he/she will be able to see things you post.
You may want to consider unfriending these shared friends or asking friends
to unfriend your former partner.
Getting information about the other person
Be cautious about what actions you take to obtain information about the
other party on a computer, e-mail account, or on social media sites. If
you are considering tracking the other party’s actions and electronic
communications, you should consult with an attorney to determine what
is legal, what is illegal, and what the consequences may be of any illegal actions.