Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Facebook Follies

ConfessionFBIt’s been a while since I posted on the perils of having a Facebook account. Things haven’t changed much and it still has no respect for your privacy.

In the past we’ve had stories about how recruiters and divorce lawyers use Facebook to check up on you; how Facebook vigilantes in Delhi shop traffic offenders; how servicemen in war zones are put at risk using it and how the Israeli army catches out people pretending to be Orthodox to skip military service.

And my very first one about how people with lots of Facebook “friends” can still be lonely (which has been in my top five most-read posts for the last 3 years).

So what’s the latest Facebook story to catch my eye? Well it must be Scott Woodburnthe traffic offender who advertised on Facebook for someone to take his penalty points as he was close to being disqualified.

He paid someone, who doesn’t even drive, £250 to take the blame but got 5 months in prison for perverting the course of justice.

Something to put on his Facebook page.

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Shoot yourself in the foot – join Facebook 

Actually any social networking site will do it according to an article in The Times (2/7/2010).

The American Academy of Divorce Lawyers says 80% of its members have used or been faced with evidence from social networking sites.

The biggest source is Facebook (66%), then MySpace (15%) and Twitter (5%).

From pot-smoking denials to claims of being childless whilst fighting for child custody, members seem to forget the information is out there forever. And in the UK a DIY Divorce site says 20% of its cases mention Facebook.

But it’s not just divorce lawyers or jilted partners who are using these sites. A survey of British employers found that 20% checked Facebook, MySpace and Bebo – and a quarter of them had rejected candidates because of what they had found. In the USA a Microsoft survey found that 78% of recruiters searched the internet to check applicant’s backgrounds.

So in addition to the potentially negative social and emotional aspects of Facebook you now run the risk of jeopardising your marriage and your job prospects. With 40% of the UK population having a Facebook account there’s plenty of dirt to dig.

Updated 17 January 2011: Social networking sites are being cited with increasing frequency in the UK, particularly in the post-Xmas divorces, according to another article in the Times (15/1/2011). Facebook is the main culprit but Second Life, Illicit Encounters and Friends Re-united are also in the frame. Suspicious spouses are searching these for evidence of flirting and affairs.

Some lawyers report 10 times as many divorces in the weeks immediately after Xmas and a 20% rise overall. One said; “Facebook is the divorce lawyer’s jewel in the crown”. Facebook pages, along with sexy tests and chats are now being used as evidence of “unreasonable behaviour”.

People are also resorting to Facebook to get back at former partners by slagging them off or posting pictures of their new lovers. In fact Facebook already has a divorce page where people can describe what it was like going through their divorce.