February 5, 2013

We’re All Breaking Up With Each Other And Sharing Nude Photos

It’s the stuff of modern day soap operas:

Boy meets girl, boy and girl begin an intimate relationship, boy asks girl for a picture of her wobbly bits, girl obliges, girl later breaks up with boy because he doesn’t pay attention to her needs, boy threatens to send naughty pictures to his college friends, girl hacks into boys computer and steals credit card information and goes on a shopping spree.

Just days before the day we celebrate love, togetherness and the tender side of life, McAfee has released a study which encourages us all to stop trusting the ones we’re with.

Not surprisingly, McAfee has found that nearly 60 percent of all naughty texts, or “sexts,” as they’re sometimes known, are somehow leaked to people who aren’t the intended recipient. Overall, this new study finds that our information is never really safe, even when entrusted with the ones we love.

In their “Love, Relationships, and Technology: When Private Data Gets Stuck in the Middle of a Breakup” study, McAfee has found that 36 percent of Americans plan to get down and sexy on Valentine’s day by sending a risqué photo of themselves to their partners.

“We’re all aware of the cases involving celebrities, but you don’t have to be a celebrity to have your personal information exposed,” said Michelle Dennedy, online security expert with McAfee in a statement.

According to their research, once these photos are sent, they’ll probably be shared with others.

This study has also found that men are more likely to share these pictures than women, though not by much: Men shared these photos 53 percent of the time, while women shared them 44 percent of the time.

With so many people sharing these intimate photographs, it’s no wonder so many relationships fail.

And when they do, McAfee has found that some 56 percent of those interviewed claimed to log onto their ex’s social networking profiles to “cyber stalk” them, or keep an eye on who they’ve been talking to and who’s naughty pictures they’ve been eyeing.

In fact, these people were so obsessed with these broken relationships that they reported cyber stalking their ex’s more often than they would their current love interests. A total of 44 percent, by the way, reported cyber stalking the ones they currently send scandalous photos to.

What’s worse, one out of every ten spurned lovers have threatened to leak private information about their ex-lover online, a threat that is carried out 60 percent of the time, says McAfee. Of these leakers, 45 percent said they acted the way they did because their ex had lied, 41 percent due to cheating and 14 percent due to a called-off wedding. A total of 27 percent of leakers simply couldn’t stand the fact that their ex had broken up with them, for what ever reason, and this was enough to send these photos to unintended recipients.

All told, the love study has found that 94 percent of Americans believe their private data and PG-13 rated photos are safe with their significant other. Yet, once a breakup occurred, 32 percent said they regretted being so loose (pardon the pun) with their private data. More than just photographs, texts and, in some cases, videos, McAfee also found that passwords and other private information are also at risk when the proverbial chocolate hearts and roses hit the fan. 63 percent of those interviewed said they shared their banking passwords, 57 percent shared their social security numbers, and 54% shared their general passwords with their sexy-time partners. When this data is leaked, men were found to be more likely to fight to recover this information.

Dennedy issues a final warning, saying:

“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. Everyone needs to be aware of the risks and take the steps to make sure their personal data is safe and secure.”

As we head into the land of hearts, silk lingerie and edible lotions, keep in mind that anything sent electronically can almost certainly be detected, leaked or shared without your knowledge. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to lock your devices with a PIN and change any password you may have shared with a lover. After all, if this McAfee study teaches us anything, it’s that love can be fleeting, and when it does, it’s probably going to embarrass you, steal your money and monitor your online activities for months to come.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Image Credit: John T Takai / Shutterstock

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