Social Media Impact on NY Divorce

The resignation of Congressman Anthony Weiner in June 2011 underscores the power of social media. While millions of people regularly send texts, emails, and photos to others via electronic platforms such as Twitter, this activity put the disgraced Congressman in hot water with his constituents and the public.

While representing the Ninth U.S. Congressional District, Weiner sent numerous lewd photos of himself to various female acquaintances that followed him on Twitter. Initially he denied taking or sending the photos, and insisted that his Twitter account was hacked. He also denied that the photos were of him.

However, as the electronic trail of evidence came to light, Weiner eventually admitted he lied and was forced to resign. He intended to post the photos privately but accidentally sent them as public posts that anyone could access.

Tweets led to resignation

Following his resignation, many legal experts took to the airwaves to debate whether his shameful conduct constituted a virtual affair and therefore infidelity to his wife. Other legal experts argued that virtual affairs are not grounds for divorce.

But what this incident really represents is the growing number of divorce cases where personal messages and photos placed on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace work to undermine a marriage.

Social media influences divorce

According to a 2010 survey [CK1] by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 81 percent of divorce attorneys saw an increase in the number of divorce cases using social networking evidence in the past five years. Two-thirds of these lawyers cited Facebook as the primary online evidence source.

While the Weiner marriage is so far intact, this case shows how easily marriages can be jeopardized by virtual indiscretions.


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