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Moms on Facebook: What's Not to 'Like'?

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on May 12, 2013 9:01 AM

Much to the dismay of their loving sons and daughters, moms have been joining Facebook in droves in order to keep in touch -- and keep tabs -- on their kids.

In fact, about 1 in 3 mothers are "friends" with their teens on Facebook, the Associated Press reports. While this gives moms a window into their children's and friends' lives, in some cases Facebook use (and misuse) has landed moms in hot water -- and even in jail.

To help moms avoid heartache and legal trouble this Mother's Day, here are some "likes" and "unlikes" about using Facebook that moms may want to consider:

  • Like: Gathering ammo for divorce. Spouses often post really sensitive and personal information on Facebook, and moms seeking divorce may find their soon-to-be-ex's Facebook profile rife with incriminating status updates to contradict what they might say in court. (Of course, divorcing moms will also want to be careful about their own Facebook posts, which can be used against them in the same way.)
  • Unlike: Calling your kids names. The reasons to be tired and frustrated with your children are legion, but a mom telling the Internet that her son or daughter is an (insert expletive here) may cost her custody of her kids.
  • Like: Exposing a cheater. Moms who are worried that their spouse is cheating on them may be in luck if they have access to their spouse's Facebook account. Case in point: an Ohio mom who found her current husband with his second, secret wife in public Facebook photos on his secret wife's account.
  • Unlike: Cyberbullying. You can't always control your kids, but moms may open themselves to liability if they allow their children to bully friends and classmates over Facebook. But kids aren't the only ones engaging in cyberbullying, as a Missouri mom was convicted of misdemeanor charges in 2008 for bullying a suicidal 13-year-old girl on Myspace.
  • Like: Keeping your private life off Facebook. Whether it's sharing their physical location by "checking in" or updating the world as to their next open bottle of wine, moms, like anyone, should consider what parts of their private life they share on Facebook.
  • Unlike: Spreading lies. Although Facebook is an open forum for many kinds of free expression, it is not a magic shield to libel. When moms lie about their ex-spouse, children, friends, or co-workers in a derogatory comment (e.g., "Thanks for giving me herpes") that ends up damaging someone's reputation, they may end up being sued for libel.

So for all the moms out there on Facebook: Remember to monitor your own activity, along with your kids'. And for everyone who's "friends" with their mom on Facebook: Remember to wish her a Happy Mother's Day today.

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