It seems like incrementally studies are released citing Facebook as a cause of divorce, and the same old question kicks up... is Facebook harming marriages all by itself, or is it the conduit by which marriages fall apart after existing problems become highlighted?
As early as 2009, Facebook divorce stats were cited, and by December of that year, some in the marital law field said that one in five divorces hinged on Facebook issues. By September of 2010, the New York State bar issued novel guidelines regarding the use of evidence gleaned on social media sites, which included matrimonial issues.
In 2011, the claim of one in five divorces having Facebook to blame rose again, and later that year, social media evidence was deemed one of the most important issues to come in law and legal matters.
By 2012, that number of potential Facebook divorces rose further, and one-third of cases were said to have relied on some form of social media evidence.
Two years on, social scientists are still trying to figure out where bad marriages end and Facebook begins -- or whether Facebook throws gasoline on troubled relationships.
The July 2014 issue of Computers in Human Behavior addresses new data on Facebook and divorce, explaining:
"The data presented in this study provide evidence that Facebook use is correlated with reduced marital satisfaction and divorce rates."
However, Sebastian Valenzuela, co-author of the study and assistant professor in the School of Communications at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, says the link and the cause and effect aspects aren't quite understood, explaining:
"We don't know whether Facebook is causing divorce or divorce is causing the use of Facebook."
What's interesting is that in the latest Facebook divorce research, researchers seem to be convinced that the use of social media is very potentially an active and not passive factor in marital destruction.
Acknowledging that Facebook indeed seems innocent, they report that statistical signs point to social media having a net negative effect on marriages:
"Although it may seem surprising that a Facebook profile, a relatively small factor compared to other drivers of human behavior, could have a significant statistical relationship with divorce rates and marital satisfaction, it nonetheless seems to be the case. This relationship holds up at both the individual and state levels. If the preliminary findings in this study are sustained, it would represent an important step forward in the study of SNS and human behavior. It would also raise profound questions about the role of social media in daily lives."
You can read the summary of the latest Facebook divorce study here.