LONDON, Feb. 6, 2009 -- There is the Facebook relationship status, the Facebook Weddingbook and now what may be the world's first Facebook divorce.
Emma Brady, a 35-year-old conference organizer, told the U.K. Daily Mail she was shocked after finding out her husband had changed his status to "Neil Brady has ended his marriage to Emma Brady." Not being a frequent Facebook user, she found out about what her husband had posted when a concerned friend called to console her.
IT consultant Neil Brady said his status change could not have come as a surprise to his wife. Neil Brady, now living with his mother, claimed in the Daily Mail that his wife had cheated on him and that he wanted to end their six-year marriage simply because he "had had enough of her."
Millions of people have discovered new friendships, love affairs and social lives on Facebook. But they have also discovered new social dilemmas. After how many dates do you change your relationship status from single to "in a relationship"? What about rekindling with the "ex" who has found you on Facebook? What if you discover an old flame on your partner's friends list?
Facebook's 150 million users may not all be involved in complicated love triangles on the Web site but because everyone you have ever known can look you up and start a conversation, the action may sometimes be just too close for comfort.
High school sweethearts, old flings and new crushes can all add each other with a click, starting new love affairs for some and causing headaches for others.
Numerous forum groups on the Internet buzz with the destructive effects Facebook has on relationships. On a Facebook group named "Facebook ruins relationships" users talk about Facebook-related breakups and fights.
A female from California wrote: "yeah me and T. have gotten in plenty of fights because of suspicious Facebook pictures or wall posts. And I've even had friends who didn't realize their fight with their boyfriend meant a break up until their boyfriends relationship status changed to single."
Kristin O'Neill told the Boston Globe that she found out more than she cared to know about her boyfriend on Facebook.
After an enthusiastic recommendation from her friends, O'Neill opened an account on the site. Besides her friends, she found her boyfriend online, who was a frequent Facebook user.
But she was surprised to find two separate profiles on which he seemed almost a different person. On one profile he made flirtatious comments and was in a "open relationship"; in the other he was the boyfriend she knew. Confronted with the digital evidence, he admitted to his double life on Facebook and she ended the relationship, according to the newspaper.
The first Facebook divorce, if that's what it becomes, may definitely not be the last, as the site gains popularity and its users continue to share every detail of their lives with their Facebook friends.
The 24-year-old founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, told BBC News that Facebook is so popular because "before, most people wouldn't consider sharing their real identities online. But Facebook has offered a safe and trusted environment for people to interact online, which has made millions of people comfortable expressing more about themselves."