Social networking sites have developed an unusual, but perhaps unsurprising, new fan base: divorce attorneys. More and more divorce petitions are mentioning Facebook and similar tools as contributing factors. So in at least one corner of the professional world, the constant criticism we've heard this year and last about "over-sharing" isn't being echoed. There's an entire demographic that would love to see more people spill their secrets publicly, and help turn associates into partners.The problem seems to be one of availability, according to divorce lawyers. Thanks to sites like Facebook, fresh connections with old friends can reignite flames that were doused decades ago -- not to mention introduce you to new people who wouldn't have slept with you before you before you commanded a seven-figure bonus. The easy access to infidelity opportunities afforded by social media could be pushing divorces higher.
Of course, it's unfair to blame Facebook, Twitter and other platforms for this. Social media doesn't make people have sex. People make people ... well, you know the drill.
Mark Keenan, managing director of Divorce-Online, told the London Telegraph that almost one in every five divorce petitions his company processes involves a mention of Facebook. "I had heard from my staff that there were a lot of people saying they had found out things about their partners on Facebook and I decided to see how prevalent it was. I was really surprised to see 20 percent of all the petitions containing references to Facebook," he noted.
The most common divorce driver on Facebook, Keenan said: Spouses "having inappropriate sexual chats with people they were not supposed to."
This may not differ much from a flirtatious exchange at a bar (or grocery store), except for the fact that there's an audit trail, inviting suspicious spouses to snoop around. The rise of a software sector focused on helping weary wives nab whoring hubbies could push the trend even higher.
The ultimate effect of all this e-philandering -- and the subsequent getting caught -- on social media user trends has yet to be seen. Facebook crossed the 350 million user threshold last month and has delivered unassailable growth results. Some users may pull back on their social media use, if only to prevent friends and spouses from "getting the wrong idea," but it looks like even the risk of divorce won't be enough to put the brakes on flirty tweets and come-on comments written on people's walls.
So if you're looking for a little extra love, take the advice divorce lawyers would love to give: Use Facebook. Use Twitter. Use your real name. After all, sports cars, club memberships and homes in the Hamptons don't pay for themselves.
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