Bigamists the world over will be closing down their Facebook accounts this weekend after a man in Washington was discovered — through the social networking site — to allegedly have two wives. The thing is, it was one of his two wives that stumbled across the revelation. It must certainly have been a drop-everything-you’re-holding moment for the woman in question.
The discovery came about after wife number one clicked on the Facebook page of a woman that the social networking site suggested as a possible friendship connection through its “people you might know” feature. She didn’t know the woman, but she did know the man standing beside her holding some wedding cake — that’s right, it was her husband.
An AP report explains that alleged bigamist Alan L. O’Neill first got married in 2001. He moved out in 2009, changed his name and supposedly married again — without divorcing his first wife.
According to Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist, after wife number one discovered that there also appeared to be a wife number two, she called O’Neill’s mother.
Soon after, O’Neill turned up at wife number one’s apartment, whereupon she asked him several times if he had divorced her. “No, we are still married,” he is reported to have replied.
Court documents show that O’Neill asked wife number one to keep quiet about his apparent bigamy. Although he promised to sort out the somewhat sticky situation, his first wife was having none of it and decided to contact the authorities.
It’s not clear why the couple remained married after they separated, or more to the point, why O’Neill apparently failed to file for divorce prior to marrying wife number two.
Prosecutors charged O’Neill with bigamy on Thursday. If convicted, he could be sent to jail for up to a year.
“Facebook is now a place where people discover things about each other they end up reporting to law enforcement,” Lindquist told the AP, adding, “Every few years we see one of these (bigamy) cases.”
Ever since it began, Facebook has been making, as well as breaking, relationships. Indeed, a survey at the end of last year revealed that among 5,000 divorce petitions made recently in the UK, a third mentioned Facebook, claiming the website had been used by the other party in a way that was destructive to the relationship.