By Margarita Nahapetyan
According to U.S. and British divorce attorneys, social networking website Facebook is often associated with marriage breakups. In spite of the fact that millions of people all across the world consider Facebook to be very social and innocent, the latest statistics show that one in five marriages in the United States are destroyed by the nation's most popular website.
A 2010 survey by American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that more than 80 per cent of U.S. divorce lawyers name Facebook as a principal cause of relationship problems, with the lawyers now requesting to see their clients' Facebook pages as a matter of course before they start the process. And another survey by Divorce online, a UK-based legal services firm, found that more than 30 per cent of divorce filings in 2009 contained the word Facebook.
Two-thirds of the attorneys surveyed said that Facebook was the leading source of evidence during divorce proceedings, followed by MySpace with 15 per cent and Twitter with 5 per cent. These statistics included not just evidence of cheating but also other legal battles, including custody of a child cases. In one of such cases, for example, one of the parents denied using illicit drugs but wrote about smoking pot on a Facebook page. Photographic images collected from social networking websites - including those posted by friends or colleagues on their own pages - are a particularly rich and important source of good evidence, according to divorce attorneys.
Statistical data from Nielsen, an online analyst company, showed that during a period of one month 135 million people in the United States visited their Facebook accounts, which is about 70 per cent of the country's web users. The company also found that an average time spent by users on Facebook is seven hours a month, while Amazon gets only less than half an hour a month, and Google - America's most popular web destination - about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
K. Jason Krafsky, the author of the book "Facebook and your marriage," says that affairs on Facebook start with a lightning speed. In real life, he explains, office romances or holiday trysts can take months or even years to develop. And as to Facebook, here everything is just a matter of several clicks. Facebook is different from most social networks or dating websites in that it can reconnect old flames and also makes it possible for people to become friends with someone who they might have met just a couple of times in their lives. "It puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair," Krafsky says.
Other experts say that even when people get involved in extramarital affairs without any help from Facebook, the website still provides a comfortable atmosphere for individuals to talk about their lives to other people and inadvertently arouse the suspicions and jealousy of their partners. According to Randy Kessler, an attorney and current chair of the family law section of the American Bar Association, when using Facebook, people feel very safe to share their private stuff, and therefore, they voluntarily post there an enormous amount of incriminating information. It could be something as innocent as attending a restaurant, or just a simple photograph, Kessler said.
According to a spokesperson for Facebook, it is ridiculous to even think that Facebook is somehow associated with marriage breakups and divorce. Whether individuals are splitting up or just getting together, the social network is just a way to communicate, in the same way as writing letters or emails to each other or making phone calls. It is not Facebook that causes divorces, people themselves do.