Most of us have listened to friends complain about an unflattering picture that their significant other posted of them on a social media site. In this digital age, people not only take more and more pictures of everyday events, but people are sharing the images through Facebook, Instagram, and any other social media sites they can get their hands on. Maybe your friend’s significant other catches them at a bad time but loves the picture and posts it anyway – your friend gets mad, but then it usually blows over, right? Couples are now entering into agreements that can prevent this whole ordeal in the first place – the “Social Media Pre-Nup.”
Some couples are now opting for a different kind of pre-nup; a social media pre-nup essentially spells out what types of pictures or videos can be posted on social media and what penalties are imposed if a “restricted” type of image is posted. Couples can opt to work in social media clauses into their pre- or post-nuptial agreement, or the social media pre-nup can be a standalone agreement (as some couples opt to do).
The overall provision will usually specify what posts are not acceptable for posting to social media. A clause will normally specify any nude photos or other “embarrassing” photos or videos. What constitutes an embarrassing post will undoubtedly vary by couple, as will the penalties for violating the clause. For social media clauses within an overall pre-nup, there is usually a monetary fine. When the social media pre-nup stands on its own between the couple, the penalty might be something more simple (and less costly) such as household chores or errands.
Like the whole process of getting a pre-nup, addressing social media is just as much about open communication as it is about preventing certain photos from making it onto the internet. It is a great opportunity for couples to discuss boundaries and how to deal with them. For example, the couple can discuss whether or not each party will have access to passwords in different social media sites. Whether or not they ultimately decide to trade passwords, the discussion will help each party to understand how they want to approach privacy concerns. Talking about what constitutes an “embarrassing” post can also help a couple get on the same page for the future. The conversation itself can help prevent some future social media blunders, regardless of whether the social media clause is ultimately signed off on by the parties.
Part of the purpose for the social media pre-nup is not only to deal with possible issues during the relationship, but also for anything that may happen if the relationship ends. There are more and more stories emerging about exes seeking revenge and posting inappropriate photos or videos to social media either during or after a divorce. The social media pre-nup allows parties to have some sense of security that that type of issue won’t come up for them if the relationship ends. Besides the clause itself, the added security comes into play with a possible monetary fine. Depending on the couple’s income, there could be a fine of thousands of dollars for just one inappropriate post!
Because of the increased need for people to feel connected, social media pre-nups are a great way to ensure that parties respect each other’s boundaries when it comes to sharing personal photos and videos on the internet. With the number of social media sites constantly increasing, this type of agreement is here to stay. Your attorney can help you determine what elements of a social pre-nup may work best for your situation, just like any other element of your pre- or post-nuptial agreement. As social media pre-nups become more popular, so will the notion, “think before you post!”