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TIP #5: How “Social” can you afford to be?

Posted by Joseph Emmerth | Jan 02, 2019 | 0 Comments

One area that is increasingly more critical every year, is social media accounts.  The rise and pervasiveness of social media over the past five years has been nothing short of frightening.  The amount of information and the unrestricted views into your private life that social media displays on a daily basis is nothing short of stunning.  Whether your medium of choice is Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, or even a more professional arena like LinkedIn, make sure that no one else has access to, or can obtain access to, these accounts.

The first thing you need to do is change the passwords on all your online accounts.  Start with your email accounts first. Even if you don't think your wife has access to them, or knows your passwords, change them anyway.  You should have already changed your passwords to your online banking accounts, unless you've already moved your finances to a different financial institution.  To begin, you should make a list of all the social media accounts that you are on currently, and that you used to be on.  Now go down the line and change each and every password on all the accounts, without exception.  Yes, this means that even if you have a MySpace account back from 2002, and Tom is still your only friend, you need to change the password or completely delete the account.

Also, while you are in each respective account please check your settings to make sure that your challenge protocol is also set up to prevent your wife from accessing it.  What is a challenge protocol? When you have forgotten your username or password, a challenge protocol is the way a respective social media account sends you a temporary username or a temporary password to get you back on the account There are usually settings and preferences you can select regarding how you would like to receive this information.

Common examples include emailing you a link to a temporary password or username, sending you a text message with the information, and in some cases, even a telephone call.  If you have already changed your email password, then you are probably okay with leaving your challenge protocol selected to email. The most secure option, especially if your mobile phone is locked down, would be to have it sent to you via text message.  Once you have this locked down, you can probably sleep a little easier. This will prevent your wife from hijacking your social media account, fabricating posts or pictures, and attempting to destroy your online life.

One word of warning: many men are particularly adept at destroying their online life (and by extension, their offline life) all by themselves. My general suggestion is to disable all your online accounts while the divorce is pending.  This means you don't have to delete them or give them up for good, simply make them inactive and unreviewable while the divorce process is ongoing. Some men are unhappy with this suggestion, which should not be surprising, considering that too many men seem incapable of utilizing discretion, politeness, and even common decency in many online interactions.  Therefore, I recommend you disable the accounts.

Nothing is worse than a man ripping into the judge, or belittling their soon-to-be ex-wife online, particularly when opposing counsel shows up at court with screenshots of your social media posts exhibiting these behaviors.  Disabling your accounts temporarily also prevents you from doing certain other things which sometimes complicate the divorce process, such as posting pictures of your young children, posting pictures of your new significant other, or having someone else post pictures of activities and situations that you would rather not have displayed for the public (and in particular your future ex-wife) to see in full detail.

About the Author

Joseph Emmerth

Joseph concentrates his practice in divorce matters, post-divorce modifications, parentage matters, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, and other men's legal issues. Joseph was voted an Illinois SuperLawyer by his fellow attorneys in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

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