As we all become increasingly comfortable with sharing every aspect of our lives on social media, we face the risk whereby that publicly shared information may be used against us in our moments of weakness, like when relationships break down or we become involved in Family Court proceedings.
Popular Perth blogger Constance Hall is like many family law litigants, save for the fact her story is one on a significantly larger scale but nevertheless, the impact social media can have on parties is similar.
Constance had a scandalous start to public life when in 2005 she was the focus of media attention after her eviction from the Big Brother due to lying about her relationship status in the interview process.
In 2009, Constance started publishing her blog – The Not So Secret Life Of Us – where she wrote posts detailing all aspects of her personal life including her relationship, her sex life and her parenting decisions.
Through it, she became a social media celebrity, with millions of followers and celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher sharing some of her posts.
Ironically the platform Constance used to become famous is now a forum where her relationship breakdown with her husband Bill is being publicly criticised.
The difficulty with sharing our lives on social media is that once posts are uploaded and statements are made, it is almost impossible to retract them, becoming the property of the social media websites they were posted on, or easily downloaded and kept by the public.
So while Constance would have enjoyed the fame that followed her catch comment of “we can hate our jobs so why can’t we hate parenting?”, now that all aspects of her relationship breakdown are under the microscope, she may regret making such statements on social media that may now be used against her.
In this case, Constance felt she had control of her relationship breakdown and took the opportunity to make a statement on social regarding its demise.
Among some of the things she said was: “I was once warned that if you make yourselves redundant to each other, you won’t find a reason to stay together. I guess that kind of happened to Bill and I.”
Constance’s statement painted the story of a relationship that had amicably dissolved, something many people can relate to. But there are often two sides to every story.
Relationship breakdowns are fuelled with emotion and people often behave in a reactive manner so, in the age of social media, Bill took the opportunity to tell his side.
His was not a romantic or amicable one… Bill claims his children have been taken away from him and his relationship broke down because of Constance allegeldy having an affair.
With Bill’s side of the story now in the public domain, the online community is now literally involved in their relationship breakdown.
Every blog post or photo Constance uploaded in relation to her children, her relationship or her lifestyle can be taken and used by Bill throughout what may well be a nasty custody battle.
In an era where life or fashion bloggers take the opportunity to open their lives up for public consumption, Constance is an important lesson for us all.
Once you upload anything to social media (or the internet) it becomes public consumption, which cannot be retracted when you decide it is no longer favourable.
When your life is open for public consumption by choice, you lose the right to decide when that is closed off and your privacy reclaimed.
Hayley Ellison is a family lawyer and associate at HHG Legal Group