Who hasn’t logged onto Facebook and pored through an ex’s page, looking at old posts and clicking on the photo of the girl or guy who took their place?
If a new study is to be believed, the vast majority of people are guilty of post-breakup cyber-snooping.
According to a Masters thesis written by a student at University of Western Ontario in Canada, as many as 88 per cent of people – nearly nine of ten – check up on their former boyfriends or girlfriends on the popular social media site, the Toronto Star reported.
Jilted lovers signed on to friends’ accounts to spy on the person who dumped them. They deleted photos reminding them of happier times, read long-forgotten wall posts and scrutinized their potential replacement.
‘It’s so interesting right now, so different from before this technology existed. Once you broke up in the past, it was over,’ media studies graduate student Veronika Lukacs, 25, told the Star after successfully defending her thesis titled ‘It’s Complicated: Romantic breakups and their aftermath on Facebook.’
Lukacs said her analysis of Facebook as it relates to breakups has serious social implications.
‘Nearly everyone is participating in these behaviors, it’s very very common,’ she said.
The student also found that 48 per cent of people remain Facebook friends with their ex after they break up and 74 per cent had tried to keep tabs on their former partner’s new flame.
Of those who were no longer Facebook friends, 70 per cent admitted using a mutual friend’s profile to check on their ex.
‘At the end of the day, Facebook does present very serious challenges for people getting over a breakup,’ Lukacs said. ‘It’s a much more serious issue than a lot of people think.’
Surveillance of someone on Facebook, or ‘creeping,’ did not follow the patterns Lukacs had foreshadowed.
‘I had expected people who were not Facebook friends with their ex-partners would be less distressed.
‘We found the opposite was true. People who had ‘unfriended’ their partners had higher levels of distress. Based on interviewing people, I’m thinking that people who are the most distressed are the ones who delete their partners,’ she explained.
Less surprisingly, the rejected partners who were most upset by the split were also the most avid stalkers.
As part of her study, Lukacs surveyed 107 people over age 18 who had their heart broken in the previous 12 months. Three-quarters of them attended University of Western Ontario.
‘A lot of people who I had interviewed talked about their surveillance behavior and how they knew it wasn’t good for them and yet somehow they were doing it anyway,’ she said. ‘Rationality didn’t play a role for them.’
One man Lukacs interviewed confessed that he had hacked into his ex-girlfriend’s Facebook account.
‘He never thought he was the kind of person who would do that. He was really embarrassed,’ she said, adding that it is a good idea to change the Facebook password after a breakup.
While deleting an ex from your friends list may seem like a viable solution to the problem, Lukacs said it is not entirely effective.
In addition, it is generally considered rude to ‘unfriend’ someone on Facebook, so many people are hesitant to sever that last tie.
More findings from Facebook breakup study:
86.2 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that Facebook is part of their daily routine
70 per cent would use a friend’s account to keep track of a former girl or boyfriend secretly after deleting them on Facebook
65.5 per cent updated their profiles once a month or more. Their number of friends ranged from 69 to 1,800 with 484 as the mean
64 per cent reread or over analyzed old messages or wall posts from their ex
61 per cent were asked about the breakup when their relationship status changed
50 per cent deleted an ex-partners pictures
38 per cent altered their privacy controls on their Facebook accounts
33 per cent changed their Facebook status to quote a song or lyric about the ex-partner
31 per cent posted a picture in an attempt to make the ex jealous
5.6 per cent posted a slanderous comment