The usage of social media in the U.S. continues to grow. A recent Pew Research Center report in 2015 indicated the following data relating to social media use nationally:
- Approximately 65% of the population engages in social media
- Roughly 68% of women use social media, compared to 62% of men.
- The percentage of those using social media increases based on household income and educational levels.
- Usage based on racial demographics was 65% for whites & Hispanics, and 56% for African-Americans.
With the widespread usage of social media, people are documenting events in their daily lives with photos, comments, and feelings; in fact, many people now use social media platforms such as Facebook as a primary means of personal communication. Much of this information, if properly admitted, could have an impact in divorce negotiations, settlements, and trials. In response, the New York courts are continuing to apply the basic rules of discovery in cases as it relates to electronically stored information.
The Admissibility of Social Media Findings to Cases
Is gathering information from social media accounts a violation of privacy rights? The fundamental purpose of most social media sites is to share information; therefore, it would seem unlikely that introducing such information would violate privacy and restrict admission. Perhaps the more challenging aspects would be determining how the material is relevant and that it is factual and credible. Traditional public information sources, like print publications and services such as LexisNexis, have been customarily accepted, thus it seems that information from a public social media source would be as well.
Examples of Possible Relevant Usage in a Divorce Case
- A man is claiming to have a significant physical injury in a case with a pending decision on maintenance support (alimony). Surprisingly, his social media site contains a cell phone video showing him participating in a volleyball game at the beach that past weekend.
- Perhaps a woman involved in a pending divorce has not fully disclosed financial assets and has an equitable distribution order pending based on marital assets. Suddenly, photos appear on her social media page showing off a newly purchased car.
The legal team at the Law Offices of Paul A. Boronow, PC, has represented thousands of clients involved in difficult New York divorce proceedings. As a result of such experience, we are experts in mediation, negotiations, and settlements that arise in complex divorce situations. You deserve the best representation available, and we encourage you to contact our office today at (516) 227-5353 for a consultation.