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21st century tale: Husband's bigamy discovered in novel way

Although bigamy is certainly not a new crime, discovering it on social networks is something novel. That is what happened recently when a Washington woman discovered on Facebook that her husband had a second wife. After an eight-year marriage, the couple separated but never filed for divorce. The man, a former corrections officer, was charged with bigamy when the first wife recently alerted authorities after discovering a wedding picture of her husband and his second wife on the Internet.

The woman was first alerted by a Facebook suggestion under that online tool's "People You May Know" feature that listed the second wife as a potential "friend" she might like to get reacquainted with. Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist confirmed the bigamy charge.

"Wife No. 1 went to wife No. 2's page and saw a picture of her and her husband with a wedding cake," Lindquist said. He added that, "Facebook is now a place where people discover things about each other they end up reporting to law enforcement."

After separating from his first wife, the man apparently changed his name and married his second wife within the same month. When the first wife confronted him with her discovery, he asked her not to tell anyone, but she alerted the authorities. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail.

As we have noted in past blog posts, Facebook and other social networking sites have exploded in popularity across the country, including among Georgia users. Members laud the convenience and interest in posting, but also need to be reminded that their communications regarding relationships, divorces, child custody and many other matters are no longer personal when they are online and available to a potentially huge audience.

Athima Chansanchai, a journalist who writes about social networking and media sites, says that she believes Facebook is responsible for a large number of both successful and doomed relationships.

"It's just the latest vessel by which people can stray if they want to," she notes.

Source: USA TODAY, "Washington woman finds husband's other wife on Facebook," March 10, 2012

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