We polled 1,000 people about their online sharing habits and views on privacy surrounding Valentine’s Day, and the results show just how entangled Facebook and other sites have become in people’s romantic relationships.
Some of the juiciest findings are below. Respondents could also optionally comment on how the Internet and online privacy has affected their romantic life, so we’ve included some of their quotes.
Dating’s gone digital
From photo tagging to making a relationship “Facebook official,” there’s a lot of dating etiquette that now involves the Internet…and not everyone loves that. One respondent said, “It’s troubling that the stages of our relationships have now become indirectly managed by Facebook. She’s not really your girlfriend until it’s “Facebook official.’” However, others say Facebook is an important communication tool: “Facebook is the main way my girlfriend and I talk to each other. It is a long distance relationship.”
More than a third of people (34%) have shared their usernames and passwords with someone they were romantically involved with. You used to share your hobbies, your favorite movies, your dating history…but now a significant number of people include online accounts in the list of things they share with their partner. Some respondents were strongly against it: “People seem to think it’s normal to hand out all of your passwords, phone, computer, etc. to whoever you’re dating. I won’t do this and have ended relationships over it.” Yet others were fine with sharing it: “We’re also both very open with our passwords and we don’t hide anything like that from each other. We’re both welcome to log in to any of each other’s accounts at any time.”
Digital snooping is becoming more common. 40% of people have looked at their significant other’s emails or other private messages, and 30% have looked at their browsing history. And it’s not just the person you’re dating who’s snooping: one respondent commented that “Quite a few members of my family snoop from my relationship link with my boyfriend to his Facebook page and find out information about him that way. That was something I never had to worry about in the past.”
People are sharing intimate details online. 53% of people share about their love lives on Facebook, while 37% post their romantic details on other sites (like Twitter, blogs, or dating sites). Of people who post about their love lives online, the most common thing to post about is relationship status (81%). 62% post who they’re in a relationship with, and 61% post pictures with that person. About one-third (34%) of people share their sexual orientation.
There are also the over-sharers: 18% of people have either posted sexy pictures of themselves (3%) or details of romantic encounters (15%) online, and 12% say they’ve posted “intimate details” about their relationship online. A respondent complained that “Facebook can get clogged up with people’s seemingly minute-to-minute updates on the most minuscule advancements in their love life, as if we all need to hear about it constantly.”
21% of people say they’ve been lied to on a dating site, while only 10% admit to lying about themselves.
Facebook makes breaking up even more complicated
Facebook has made breaking up more complicated. You can’t just break up in real life: you have some digital cleanup to do now, and chances are your breakup is way more public than it would be without the web.
One respondent explained how Facebook makes breakups a public event: “If I break off an engagement, I don’t want to make it a piece of ‘social content’ that people can “Like” or comment on.” Another said that Facebook itself was the problem in the relationship: “I’ve seen Facebook ruin multiple relationships. Because of this, I limit what I put on there.”
After a breakup, 63% of people de-friend or block their exes on social media sites, and 50% of people de-tag themselves in photos with their exes. In comparison, only 34% de-friend or block co-workers when they change jobs.
People are more worried about the privacy of their love lives online
People are worried about their privacy, but they aren’t sure how to protect themselves. Many are sharing a lot, but they aren’t always locking down their privacy settings or being picky about the friend requests they accept. “With terms of service and random privacy settings changing constantly, it’s difficult to keep up,” one respondent said.
Some have changed their behavior to censor themselves, like a respondent who commented “I’m more careful about what I post on social media websites like Facebook as a result of privacy issues that have surfaced in the news. I avoid sharing details of my romantic life for that reason whenever possible.” Another complained that “Life is a lot less private than it was 5-10 years ago.”
Only 10% of people are less concerned about the privacy of their love lives online than 1 year ago. 62% of people are not confident in the privacy of their photos, videos, & other info on social media or dating sites.
57% have accepted friend or follow requests from people they don’t know well, and only 22% use custom settings so only certain friends can see their posts.
Are these results surprising to you? What are your experiences with the web and your romantic life?