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 information.
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.