Julie Buckley at Hooper & Wollen asks "Could Facebook ruin your life?"
PUBLISHED: 12:30 18 March 2011 | UPDATED: 20:35 20 February 2013
There are 500 million Facebook users but if you're not one of them, pause for a little background.
There are 500 million Facebook users but if youre not one of them, pause for a little background. Its a social networking service launched in early 2004 which allows users to create a personal profile, join other users as friends, post messages and photographs and any amount of other personal information.
Many a Facebook user will have innocently placed information on their site, forgetting that in fact they have told the whole world. These seemingly innocent posts might have serious legal ramifications, for example, in the world of work, relationships and parenthood.
Beware posting photographs of yourself or your friends in states of undress, or boasting about having skipped work due to a hangover. Derogatory comments about clients or work collegues can also damage ones career. A recent case in which a bank employee described her job loss and redundancy pay as the best news ever led to her being let go without her receiving the redundancy package.
Facebook offers the ability to find and rekindle former loves, and a so-called Facebook divorce is now not an uncommon occurrence. The older ones among us will recall the similar Friends Reunited phenomenon which was the cause of many a relationship break up.
As all sent messages remain on Facebook it should be easy to prove the bad behaviour which would support a behavioural petition for divorce, although more difficult to prove adultery. It is not unknown for the user to learn of the end of their relationship through viewing their partners Facebook site, making a very public breakdown to the relationship.
During divorce it is necessary to make full and frank disclosure of all assets and liabilities. It is therefore unwise to claim you have no assets, having placed photographs of yourself at the wheel of a luxurious car or superyacht, or posting photographs or updating your profile with details of your latest foreign holiday.
In cases involving harassment by a former spouse or family member, where appropriate a Non-Molestation Order could injunct the wrongdoer from making any communication by whatever means. An invitation by the wrongdoer to be joined as a friend of the person in whose favour the Order has been made, could constitute a breach of such an Order.
Parents of children involved in disputes relating to contact should be aware that contact can occur by indirect means such as webcam, SKYPE, instant messaging and, of course, Facebook.
Where Local Authorities remove children from parents care due to issues of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, neglect or domestic violence, assessments are undertaken with a view to rehabilitation. Even the brightest person can disclose something inadvertently on Facebook and forget that they are telling the whole world, for example the light-hearted post drinking again.... could have serious legal implications.
Parents of adopted children need to give consideration to the adopted childs birth parents tracking them down. Traditionally, adoption severed links with the childs birth family, maintaining the security of the placement. These days life story work is undertaken with the children and often indirect contact takes place. For an adopted child, knowing where you have come from prevents the child from fantasising about perfect birth parents. Facebook is providing a direct opportunity for birth parents to seek
out their children as early as the age
Readers should consult professional advisers before acting upon the issues raised in this article. If you would like further advice regarding any of the issues raised please
contact Julie Buckley at
Hooper & Wollen Solicitors in Torquay 01803 213251 or e-mail