Since Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels were first introduced the sharing of information has become such an important part of our daily routines. We hardly blink at the thought of “liking”, “posting” or “sharing” a comment, an image, a video or a blog post. We use social media to show our support, appreciation or to express our opinions about practically any issue.
Most recently, the case of Jillian Meagher who went missing on her way home one Sunday night in Melbourne, unleashed an outpouring of support and grief from the social media community when her body was later found and a suspect arrested.
The challenge for the legal landscape has been that it’s become so easy to share on social media and these platforms have become so public they can create a number of complexities when it comes to matters of the law. In the case of Jill Meagher, family members had to openly plead with the public to stop commenting on the case while it was going through the legal systems. Meanwhile, at a recent conference, Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, Diana Bryant spoke of how social media was having a major impact on family court proceedings. “On YouTube at the moment there are some really distressing videos of parents manipulating their children and they’re available for anyone to watch,” she said.
Attorneys-General across the country have formed a working group to look into the impact social media might have on a person’s ability to have a fair trial. The group will be led by Victorian Attorney-General, Robert Clark who has voiced his concerns about the issue in response to the Meagher case.
What you need to know about social media and Family Law
Today, courts are readily considering social media as evidence in a number of legal cases, including in Family Law matters. This means that any communications or comments that you make on social media could be used against you.
If you have a matter that is or will be before the Family Courts, it’ll be important to be mindful of what you say online, even in private messages to relevant parties. All communications that you send to them may be used as evidence in a legal matter.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that any information about your situation that you share or discuss with an attorney, including asking for advice or counsel is done through private channels such as through email or over the phone, rather than Facebook Chat, Twitter messages or another social network.
How do you think social media has affected the legal landscape?