What Can We Learn (NOT to do) From Kanye West’s Social Media Posts
Kanye West’s recent social media posts about his wife Kim Kardashian, their children, their divorce, and Kim’s relationship with comedian Pete Davidson has thrust the topic of online postings and comments during divorces and legal disputes into the public spotlight. Though some Kanye backers are quick to point to Kanye’s artistic expression and unique point of view to explain a way or justify some of the troubling (and let’s just say it – threatening) content, most experienced family practitioners likely would advise their clients not to follow Kanye’s lead.
Although most everyday divorce and child custody litigants do not have 15 million followers on Instagram and so a cryptic call for supporters to attack someone or confront someone in public likely will not be met with any enthusiastic takers, the reality is that any statement made by a litigant in a divorce or child custody action is discoverable. Meaning that those statements are fair game to present as evidence in any relevant hearing or trial on the merits. The reality is that when an individual is going through a divorce or child custody proceeding, all of their statements, including those made on social media, are being made in what family law practitioners often refer to as the “fish bowl”. It is critical that litigants realize that it is possible, if not likely, that a Judge or Magistrate one day could read those comments and wonder how they serve the best interest of the children or a resolution to the divorce matter.
In today’s modern litigation environment, more and more attorneys are utilizing discovery requests that target and obtain the opposing party’s social media accounts, handles, usernames, and pictures and videos that have been posted to various sites and apps. Even the inter app messaging systems (commonly referred to as direct messages) are targeted to be obtained in discovery. While social media can let individuals sometimes voice their opinions on public matters from the privacy of their phone, their home computer device, or tablet, that is not necessarily a good thing when one is going through a divorce and child custody dispute. One way to look at whether or not a particular social media post is a good idea or not is to think to oneself, “is this how I would testify in Court about this issue”. Because, if the social media is admitted into evidence, that is essentially what one is doing: potentially testifying against themselves in the form of social media posts.
The golden rule passed down from generations before us is simple: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. That also happens to be the very best advice that an attorney can give a litigant with respect to their social media posts while going through a divorce or child custody case. The very best thing one can do is simply not post to social media while the case is ongoing. What one thinks might be a private conversation between themselves and a friend on Facebook Messenger, can easily become evidence in Court.