Have you ever wondered what happens to couples who share their Facebook passwords (and social media accounts—yikes) once they break-up?
Turns out, creepy ex-girlfriends are real. According to recent global research from Kaspersky Lab and Toluna, 21 percent of people have admitted to spying on their ex-partner via a social media account that they had access to—with revenge being their primary motivation.
According to the study, privacy has become an increasingly fluid concept in today's digitally savvy world, and relationships are no exception. Based on the data, a whopping 70 percent of couples share passwords, PINs or fingerprints; while 26 percent store intimate data on their device, such as intimate messages from/to the partner (14 percent), intimate photos of themselves (12 percent), and intimate videos of them and their partner (11 percent).
Moreover, people also keep sensitive data (both theirs and their partner) in their online accounts and devices—for example, financial information (11 percent) or work-related data (11 percent).
“This is all well and good when the relationship is healthy and the data is in trusted hands, but some clear issues emerge in the event of a break-up,” the research reveals. “If things start to collapse, sharing intimate memories on devices or online accounts goes from being a perfectly natural part of a loving relationship, to a potential privacy nightmare.”
Of those who have experienced a break-up, 12 percent have shared their ex-partner’s private information publicly as an act of revenge, 12 percent have damaged their ex’s social media account and device, and 21 percent have spied on their former partner via the social media accounts they had access to.
There’s also a potential financial impact, as 10 percent of the respondents admitted to having spent their ex-partner’s money online.
Interestingly, there is a huge difference in the behavior of both sexes. For one, men are much more likely than women to share their ex-partner’s private information publicly as a form of revenge (17 percent vs. 7 percent). Men are also the ones who usually use their ex’s information for their own benefit (17 percent vs. 8 percent).
Moreover, when it comes to deleting materials that are about their ex-partners, women are much more willing than men to permanently delete all information from their device (55 percent vs. 49 percent). Women are also more willing to delete all photos or videos following a break-up (56 percent vs. 48 percent). Plus, thirty-three percent of the female respondents admitted that they spied on their ex-partner via social networks (versus 28 percent from the boys).
“The digital world offers a great way for couples to connect, but also presents significant privacy risks if partners decide to go their separate ways,” said Andrei Mochola, Head of Consumer Business at Kaspersky Lab.
He adds: “With a sizeable proportion of individuals seemingly willing to abuse the intimate data they have on their ex-partners, individuals should always make sure they are careful when sharing anything intimate and know exactly where it is being stored. Moreover, there’s always the option of a digital prenuptial agreement to determine the ‘custody’ of data before it becomes a privacy problem.”
Mochola's suggestion: always change passwords to accounts that you ex has access to. Furthermore, better delete or hide files that you don’t want anyone else to see—stat!