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The Dangers of Social Media after a Separation or Divorce

Many people will have seen reports in the press today that it is expected that the Government will seek to address the rise in revenge picture publication when the new session of parliament starts.

With camera phones and social media now common place, there has been an exponential rise in “revenge porn” whereby an angry partner posts explicit and/or embarrassing images of their ex online after a relationship breaks down. The threat of such action is also increasingly common place, and there is no doubt that we have seen a significant increase in clients expressing their concern that their ex might do this, and asking what can be done.
At present, the most usual way to prevent publication is to seek an injunction, but proceedings are costly and complex. There are also issues with jurisdiction, and how far the Court’s order can extend (readers will recall the recent cases when celebrities protected by injunction here were subsequently identified by foreign media). A further problem is that with digital media, it is extremely difficult to establish whether all copies have been handed over, and stop anything being retained.
There is little doubt that this issue is a growing problem in Family Law, but it is clear that there is no simple or straightforward solution, and that an effective legal answer is probably still some way off. In the meantime, people need to be aware of the difficulties in dealing with such threats effectively when they arise, and remember that at present, prevention is better than the cure, and to think very carefully before exchanging explicit pictures or allowing them to be taken.

Cara Nuttall is a Family Law Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

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