Social media plays a role in landmark domestic violence case

When a Pennsylvania resident has been subjected to acts of violence at the hands of a loved one, addressing the matter in court can be a challenge. Many times, victims of domestic violence are in a poor position to assert their own rights, and they feel overpowered by their abuser and by years of threats. Achieving an order of protection can be a huge milestone, but many people find that enforcing those court-ordered boundaries can be an uphill battle.

A landmark case demonstrates how social media can be brought into domestic violence matters. A woman who sought and received an order of protection against her former boyfriend was dismayed that he remained active on one of her social media accounts. Specifically, he spent time looking through her Facebook profile, and “liked” as many as 22 of her photos on the site.

The protective order specified that the man was to have no contact with his former girlfriend, but he apparently did not feel that his actions were in violation of that order. When the matter went before a judge, it was determined that an individual’s actions on social media could in fact be construed as communicating with that owner of the account. As a result, the man was arraigned on charges of contempt of court.

As this case demonstrates, technology has changed the way that we interact with one another. While the courts are often slow to follow advancements in technology and society as a whole, in this case the judge took a very aggressive stance on the matter. The case could stand as precedent for other domestic violence actions, in courts in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

Source: callawyer.com, “The State of Facebook and Family Law“, Chandra Moss, April 5, 2016