Facebook Divorce

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’.

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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.

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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.

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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?

4 thoughts on “Facebook Divorce

  1. Great post. The headlines “One in five divorce cases use Facebook as evidence”etc simply borrowed from some rather dubious “research” conducted by an on-line divorce outfit.In my view it was fabricated rubbish, a sad Xmas publicity stunt.

  2. As you know I am the person behind the story. The actual press release quite correctly referred to the fact that the word “Facebook” appeared in 989 out of 5,000 petitions, nothing more, nothing less.

    The story came from some blog articles I had been reading from lawyers in the US about them sing facebook entries as evidence in adultery cases. I then thought I would see how many of our petitions ( as we have the largest UK database) featured the word.

    I thought it would be an interesting story as it shows how ubiqutous faceBook has become in all our lives.

    In all of the interviews I have done subsequently I have made it plain that FaceBook does not cause divorce, people cause divorce, and it is merely the latest in a long line of tools that errant spouses use.

    It is also easier to get caught because of facebook as you never know which one of your spouses 235 friends might be sat next to you in the restaurant while you are upto no good!

    • Hi Mark, Thanks for your response. I hadn’t imagined any different – and your experience of the ubiquity of Facebook matches mine entirely. Actually what I was getting at was the way it was reported in the article I cited, which is evidently a step beyond your original press release. And I see from Family Lore today that its not just facebook – now its twitter (Groans)…

      • Lucy

        The papers always “sex up” press releases if they can get a decent story out of it.

        They even get our domain name wrong as in the Sun article today which we had nothing to do with, but were quoted in.

        Nevermind, the publicity is always welcome.

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