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A squabbling couple have been ordered to exchange the passwords for each other’s Facebook pages and dating website accounts.

The problems started when Stephen Gallion, who is in the process of divorcing his wife Courtney, suspected there may be evidence of her ambivalence towards him and their offspring on her Facebook page. His attorney Gary Traystman requested her login details, as well as those for the eHarmony and Match.com dating accounts she had already started using. On the advice of her lawyer, who amazingly isn’t called Lionel Hutz, she did so, Forbes reports.

However, Courtney Gallion was found to have texted a friend, asking them to delete certain information from the social networking site. At that point a judge was called, who ordered both parties to exchange all login data to ensure a level playing field, while warning them not to engage in a flame war.

“Neither party shall visit the website of the other’s social network and post messages purporting to be the other,” Judge Kenneth Shluger included in the order.

It’s common practice for lawyers to trawl through social networking sites looking for evidence of wrongdoing. Should either party wish to challenge the ruling they might well have a case, since most terms and conditions (including Facebook’s) preclude third-parties from accessing someone’s accounts.

There’s also the problem of what they’ll find. In El Reg’s experience, some things - especially a partner’s online activities - are best left secret, but Stephen Gallion’s lawyer said it was a price worth paying. “It would be painful for many spouses to see what their spouses are doing,” Traystman said.

Quite where he got the idea for the passwords, and how he’ll investigate them is a mystery. Traystman is something of a technophobic personality, and owns neither an email address nor a computer.

“I see the information people can get from computers, in lawsuits and through hacking,” he said. “They scare the hell out of me.” ®

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