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Does a restraining order limit social media use?

You and your spouse are heading toward divorce, and he or she takes out a restraining order against you. You know the basics: You're not allowed to go to your spouse's residence, you have to stay a certain distance away and you can't call on the phone. But does the restraining order go further than that in the ways it limits contact? What about social media use?

It absolutely can impact your usage of social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. In fact, one man had an order taken out against him, and he didn't even technically contact his significant other. He just attempted to follow her photo-sharing account on Instagram.

She didn't accept. But when he clicked on her profile and asked to follow her, that sent her an automatic request. That alone was enough for a court to determine that he'd broken the law by contacting her when the order said he couldn't do so.

He attempted to argue that direct contact had never happened, saying that the app itself created the notification, not him. However, this was countered by pointing out that his actions had caused the app to create that notification, meaning it was just as much his fault as if he'd sent her the message himself.

This may seem like a small thing. With the extensive Internet use that exists in modern society, are these issues all that important? However, it shows why you should never assume anything about a restraining order, and why you always must know exactly what limits it puts in place. When it says no contact, that means no contact at all.

Source: Newsweek, "If Your Girlfriend Gets a Restraining Order, You Can't Follow Her on Instagram," Josh Saul, accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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