Internet

Ex-sweeties threatening to post your naked pics? Odds are, they'll do it, survey suggests

Feb. 4, 2013 at 3:51 PM ET

McAfee /

A shocking number of Americans are completely unaware that the sweetie they’re sharing a risqué photo with today could be the vengeful ex of tomorrow … is what I, personally, extrapolated from McAfee’s “Love, Relationships and Technology” study, released Monday.

According to this creepy pre-Valentine's McAfee report, one in 10 Americans have been threatened by an ex-partner to post their naughty pics on the Internet. What’s more, 60 percent of those who did the threatening actually followed through on this ugly, and potentially devastating Internet thing called "revenge porn." Something to think about if, according to this survey, you’re among the 35 percent of Americans planning on sending something sexy to your beloved this Valentine’s Day, via email, text or social media.

As we are reminded yet again, this time by McAfee, no matter what kind of digital data you’re sharing with that special someone, it could very well come back to bite you in a way you won’t enjoy.

Take your password … please. As careless as we can be about creating our passwords — “123456” anyone? — it seems at least half of us are equally naive when sharing our passwords with our partners, suggests the McAfee survey. “Sharing passwords with your partner might seem harmless, but it often puts you at risk for a ‘revenge of the ex’ situation, landing private information in a public platform for all to see," Michelle Dennedy, an online security expert for McAfee, said in a press statement. This, of course, is a common occurrence that we so desperately want to believe happens to other people, dumb people, people unlike us, who do not share an everlasting love that is true.

What happens to those people — at least the people who aren’t us? Well, 12 percent of those surveyed had personal info shared by their partners without their permission. We’re talking serious personal info too, stuff that could get you on “Judge Judy.” This stuff:

  • Bank account numbers (62.5%)
  • Health insurance ID’s (60.7%)
  • Social Security numbers (56.9%)
  • Email accounts (59.7%)
  • Passwords (53.6%)

Something to think about if you, like nearly 65 percent of smartphone owners surveyed, have intimate information on your mobile device. Though it really doesn't matter if you share your password with your sweetie, because only 40 percent of those surveyed bothered to lock down their smartphones.

Then there’s the thing McAfee is calling “cyberstalking,” which most of us would apply the less dramatic label, “stuff everybody does”:

More than half surveyed admitted to checking their significant others’ social media pages (duh) and bank accounts (OK, that’s creepy grafter behavior).

Nearly half log in to scan their partners’ emails. (Umm…).

Almost half track their ex-partner on Facebook more than they do their current partner. (Awkward.)

More than two out of five 18- to 24-year-olds have admitted to even tracking their partner’s ex on Facebook (Kids these days, I tells ya!) and/or Twitter, compared to the 28 percent national average that snoop on their partner’s ex. (Get a hobby.)

Still, in a refreshing refutation of the tired “crazy ex girlfriend meme” (most recently rehashed in Toyota’s sexist Super Bowl ad), it turns out men snoop on their partners more than women do: 46 percent of men admitted to tracking their partner, ex-partner or partner’s ex on Facebook or Twitter, compared to 37 percent of females. Also, it’s mostly men (57 percent) who admitted to checking their partner’s email, social media pages or bank accounts, compared to 52 percent of women.

Speaking of suffering crazy ex's of either gender, the 10 percent whose ex’s threatened posting their naughty pic? They have their reasons for attempting online humiliation — lame and inexcusable as those reasons are: (45.3 percent), cheating (40.6 percent), or just breaking up with him/her (26.6 percent).

If there’s one big takeaway from McAfee’s statistical insight into human behavior, it’s this: If you're not going to crop your head out of that nudie pic you sext to your future ex, you best be prepared to defend it to your kids one day. Run it through Instagram’s sepia tone filter, perhaps — at least then you can say it’s art.

Helen A.S. Popkin goes blah blah blah about the Internet. Tell her to get a real job on Twitter and/or Facebook.

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