One in four people 'hack' their ex's social media accounts

More than a quarter of people admit to logging into their ex's social media accounts. [Photo: Getty]

Breakups are hard, but it’s almost harder to live without knowing what your ex is up to now. While many of us have been tempted to head online and check up on a former flame post-split, some of us are taking things to a whole new level.

One in four - or 27 per cent - of people admit to somehow ‘hacking in’ to their ex-partner’s social media accounts, according to research by global cybersecurity company Specops Soft.

The company quizzed 2,500 about whether they’d logged in to their ex’s Instagram, Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, Twitter or email accounts to get a first-hand look at what they’re up to.

Instagram was the most popular platform to spy on an ex, with almost 70 per cent of people turning to the photo-and-video-based app for an ex update.

Some 58 per cent of respondents admitted to using Facebook to do the same, while just under 30 per cent came clean about looking through an ex-partner’s emails.

Nearly 60 per cent said their snooping was motivated by a desire to find out whether their partner had met someone new, while one in 10 did so to seek revenge.

Seven percent were looking to see if their ex had blocked them from viewing photos or other content.

Around a third of this group also admitted to continuing to use their ex’s details to access their streaming accounts, such as Netflix (33 per cent) and Spotify (27 per cent), likely to save on subscription fees.

So just how are they doing it? While the exact method wasn’t made clear in the research, couples are known to share their passwords or relax their cybersecurity around one another.

Considering more than 64 per cent of Brits use the same password for some or all of their online accounts according to a survey, it’s easy to see how this snooping situation might arise.

Why you shouldn’t snoop

Tempted to snoop? Ann Heathcote, a psychotherapist from The Worsley Centre, has provided some comments on why you’re better off resisting.

She explains: “Seeing your ex’s name appear is enough to experience that knot feeling in your stomach. Although these knot feelings are a physical experience, it’s actually the enteric nervous system. This system consists of millions of neurons that communicate with the brain and let us feel the emotions that our brain is dealing with.”

What’s more, this practice can be actively damaging to your mental health.

“Focusing on your ex doesn’t enable you to emotionally distance yourself or focus on your personal growth. You must focus on healing yourself and practise self-care instead of focusing your energy on the past,” she adds.

Protecting your passwords

As for protecting your account, cybersecurity expert Aimee Ravacon at Specops Software offers the following tips: “When it comes to creating strong passwords, size does matter- and the longer, the better. Just make sure the password isn’t easily guessable by other means, meaning do not use personal information like your pet’s name, or date of birth.

“It’s also advisable to go into your account settings, see how many sessions you have open, on which devices and in which locations – If there are any you don’t recognise as yourself (on your ex’s desktop at their home 5 miles away, for example) then you may want to end that session and log them out.”

She adds: “You can also use two-factor authentication so that you need your phone, in addition to your password, when you log in on new devices. Be sure to turn on notifications for unusual logins and assess each one to find out who is accessing your accounts. Or if you secretly want your ex to know you’ve moved on with your life, you could do nothing at all...”

Additional reporting by Francesca Specter.

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