A Valentine's Day survey conducted by Abine, Inc., the makers of DoNotTrackMe, found that, like a third wheel on your date night out, the Internet now has a front row seat to people's romantic lives.
"We all know love can make us a little crazy, so it's not surprising that people change their behavior and might go outside their typical comfort zones," said Sarah Downey, privacy analyst for Abine. The survey supports this risky behavior, showing:
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-- More than one-third of people give their account usernames and passwords to the person they're dating
-- 40 percent of people have looked at their significant other's emails or other private messages
-- 30 percent have reviewed their partner's browsing history
-- 18 percent of people have either posted sexy pictures of themselves or details of romantic encounters online
-- 12 percent say they've posted "intimate details" about their relationship online
The survey also highlights that breaking up has become more complicated and often involves tying up loose ends online:
-- After a break-up, most people (63 percent) de-friend or block their exes on social media sites
-- Half of those surveyed will de-tag themselves in photos with their exes
Survey respondents indicated that Facebook is by far the most popular online platform for sharing intimate details about one's relationship: more than 50 percent of respondents post about their love lives on Facebook, while 37 percent share details on other social media sites, blogs and online dating sites. Of people who post about their love lives online, the most common thing to post is relationship status (80 percent). Roughly 62 percent post with whomthey're in a relationship, and 60 percent post pictures with that person. About one-third of people share their sexual orientation.
"A lot of people don't consider the consequences of posting the details of their love lives online until it's too late," said Downey. "Only one in 10 people report being less concerned about the privacy of their love lives today than one year ago. The good news is that there are some basic things people can do to keep those private details private."
Abine has five easy ways for people to lose the "third wheel" and begin keeping their relationship private this Valentine's Day:
1. Keep your passwords and usernames to yourself. Relationships are all about sharing, but draw the line with your login information. You never know how your partner, an ex, or even a partner's ex will use that data to harm you.
2. Find and remove your personal information from data brokers' websites. Data brokers have access to a wealth of information, such as photos and home addresses. This data can end up in the hands of anyone willing to pay a small fee, including stalkers or angry exes. Visit the Abine website for DIY tips or subscribe to a privacy service like DeleteMe.
3. Restrict privacy settings. Manage who sees your status updates and photos on social media sites. We suggest limiting sharing to friends or making custom lists of friends with greater access. You may want to block exes or other people you knew through a past relationship after it ends.
4. Regularly check your account privacy settings. Revisit your settings on all social media accounts to make sure the website hasn't changed the default and exposed your private information in the process.
5. Don't be an over-sharer. Ask yourself if you'd be comfortable seeing the intimate details you're posting about your love life as front page news. If not, rethink posting it.