Thanks to @nickbilton for the RT of this story in The Telegraph about the number of online divorces citing facebook as a contributory factor. In fact the headline is ‘Facebook Fuelling Divorce Research Claims’ with a strapline of ‘Facebook is being cited in almost one in five of online divorce petitions, lawyers have claimed’.
I don’t doubt that as a general proposition facebook may be a feature of 1 in 5 online divorces. I do wonder though what support The Telegraph has for the reference in the title of the article to ‘Research’: When one reads the story it appears that in fact Divorce-Online have totted up the number of their own petitions which make reference to facebook and have come up with a figure of 1 in 5. I don’t doubt that figure, but I’m not sure it warrants a headline of ‘Research Claims’ by a national newspaper.
There appear to be three strands to what is claimed: 1 that facebook and similar sites make inappropriate relationships easier to conduct, 2 that they present a temptation to the spouse with a roving eye, and 3 that they are the means of a spouse finding out about infidelity and subsequently a source of evidence used to prove that infidelity. Of course what Mark Keenan quite properly says is that one in five of his cases ‘make reference to facebook’ – not that one in five cases are ‘fuelled by’ facebook: contrary to the headline there is no claim (let alone research) that one in five divorces are fuelled by facebook at all.
And on a more philosophical level – how many of those divorces can we really blame on facebook? One might reasonably suggest that rather than treating these statistics at face(book) value we need to look deeper and consider whether or not these so called facebook divorces are simply the way in in which an already failing relationship has come to end: spouses stray and spy on one another because their relationship is already damaged, has one some basic level stopped functioning. If facebook weren’t around to blame how many of these divorces would have happened in any event?