Nassau County Family Law Attorney

The Legal & Safety Issues Associated with Smartphone Technology & Social Media

Everywhere you look, people have their smartphones out like they’re permanently attached to their hands. We are all hyperconnected through text, email, social media, messenger, WhatsApp, and so many other apps and platforms. The convenience of having a smartphone has also led to us documenting every part of our lives by taking a ton of pictures and selfies to post on Facebook and Instagram.  However, when it comes to divorce and other matters pertaining to the law, it’s important to consider how all this technology could potentially impact your case, your family, and your future.

But Aren’t My Texts Private? 

Surveys have shown that over 90% of family law attorneys utilize text and email messages as evidence of infidelity. In fact, text messages have been called this generation’s “lipstick on the collar.” Many people believe that their texts and email are private, but this is rarely the case. After all, an anxious spouse can read your texts if you leave your phone out, and a sender can even use an old message against you if it benefits their personal situation. Either way, your communications are never truly private.

Understanding Forman v. Henkin

Text messages and email are not the only part of cell phone use that can be problematic. In a recent case in New York, Forman v. Henkin, 2018 N.Y., the court determined that an individual’s privacy settings do not have any relevancy in whether or not images posted to social media are discoverable. The case in question, while not a family law case, set a precedent regarding social media privacy settings.

In Forman v. Henkin, a woman sustained injuries after falling from a horse and claimed that they prevented her from working. During the discovery process, the defense attorney moved to have the woman’s Facebook account made available. After decisions and appeals, the New York Court of Appeals sided with the defense and ordered that the relevant images and texts be released regardless of any privacy settings that were applied to the images on Facebook.  Although the defense attorney was specifically looking for timestamps, it was quickly determined that they couldn’t provide the timestamps without revealing the content of the messages as well. Consequently, the Court of Appeals ordered the messages to be turned over as well.

The Dangers of Social Media

Text messages, emails, and photos are items that could bring out wrong-doing by the person who is misusing the technology. We also have to consider that the use of technology can possibly put the user in danger. Unless the option is turned off, pictures taken with a phone are geotagged. In other words, the metadata within each picture includes the actual coordinates to where the image was originally taken.

For instance, if you are concerned about your safety or the safety of your kids from a spouse who has a history of violence, and you do not want to let them know where you are, you may be inadvertently giving them your exact location by posting an image to social media. Even if you are careful not to say where you are or post a picture that doesn’t include any hints about the location, the data embedded in the image itself can give people more information than you probably want. Depending on where the pictures are taken, you may be advertising where you live, where your kids go to school, and where they participate in activities.

Have Questions? Schedule a Consultation Today

Cell phones and social media are ubiquitous in our society, and for all the positive and fun aspects they provide, there are times when technology can work against you and even put you in danger. If you have questions about the dangers of social media or how your posts can impact your court case, contact the family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Anthony J. LoPresti today. Our knowledgeable and compassionate legal team can address your questions and concerns, represent your interests in court, and help you pursue a positive case outcome that reflects your personal legal objectives and safeguards your family. 

Call the Law Offices of Anthony J. LoPresti at (516) 252-0223 to discuss your case with a qualified family lawyer.

Everywhere you look, people have their smartphones out like they’re permanently attached to their hands. We are all hyperconnected through text, email, social media, messenger, WhatsApp, and so many other apps and platforms. The convenience of having a smartphone has also led to us documenting every part of our lives by taking a ton of pictures and selfies to post on Facebook and Instagram.  However, when it comes to divorce and other matters pertaining to the law, it’s important to consider how all this technology could potentially impact your case, your family, and your future.

But Aren’t My Texts Private? 

Surveys have shown that over 90% of family law attorneys utilize text and email messages as evidence of infidelity. In fact, text messages have been called this generation’s “lipstick on the collar.” Many people believe that their texts and email are private, but this is rarely the case. After all, an anxious spouse can read your texts if you leave your phone out, and a sender can even use an old message against you if it benefits their personal situation. Either way, your communications are never truly private.

Understanding Forman v. Henkin

Text messages and email are not the only part of cell phone use that can be problematic. In a recent case in New York, Forman v. Henkin, 2018 N.Y., the court determined that an individual’s privacy settings do not have any relevancy in whether or not images posted to social media are discoverable. The case in question, while not a family law case, set a precedent regarding social media privacy settings.

In Forman v. Henkin, a woman sustained injuries after falling from a horse and claimed that they prevented her from working. During the discovery process, the defense attorney moved to have the woman’s Facebook account made available. After decisions and appeals, the New York Court of Appeals sided with the defense and ordered that the relevant images and texts be released regardless of any privacy settings that were applied to the images on Facebook.  Although the defense attorney was specifically looking for timestamps, it was quickly determined that they couldn’t provide the timestamps without revealing the content of the messages as well. Consequently, the Court of Appeals ordered the messages to be turned over as well.

The Dangers of Social Media

Text messages, emails, and photos are items that could bring out wrong-doing by the person who is misusing the technology. We also have to consider that the use of technology can possibly put the user in danger. Unless the option is turned off, pictures taken with a phone are geotagged. In other words, the metadata within each picture includes the actual coordinates to where the image was originally taken.

For instance, if you are concerned about your safety or the safety of your kids from a spouse who has a history of violence, and you do not want to let them know where you are, you may be inadvertently giving them your exact location by posting an image to social media. Even if you are careful not to say where you are or post a picture that doesn’t include any hints about the location, the data embedded in the image itself can give people more information than you probably want. Depending on where the pictures are taken, you may be advertising where you live, where your kids go to school, and where they participate in activities.

Have Questions? Schedule a Consultation Today

Cell phones and social media are ubiquitous in our society, and for all the positive and fun aspects they provide, there are times when technology can work against you and even put you in danger. If you have questions about the dangers of social media or how your posts can impact your court case, contact the family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Anthony J. LoPresti today. Our knowledgeable and compassionate legal team can address your questions and concerns, represent your interests in court, and help you pursue a positive case outcome that reflects your personal legal objectives and safeguards your family. 

Call the Law Offices of Anthony J. LoPresti at (516) 252-0223 to discuss your case with a qualified family lawyer.

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