Sharing too much information online can wreck your marriage and career.
That’s the new finding of a survey from the Kaspersky Lab, which found that 28 percent of online users share confidential data on the Internet, with 16 percent also sharing secrets about themselves – ones that could affect both their marriages and jobs.
Specifically, the research found people share data through photos, their contacts, a photo of someone else, personal details and work-related data. In total, 16 percent told a secret about themselves online and 9 percent told a secret about someone else online.
“This is despite the fact that half are deeply worried about the damaging impact of such information being made public – both in terms of financial loss and emotional distress,” according to the survey.
It’s true. About one-third of the 12,000 respondents said they were worried what they shared online would damage their relationship, whereas 1 in 6 fretted over their careers.
Their worries were justified. About 28 percent of respondents said that the information they accidentally shared negatively affected their job or career. In fact, 20 percent said they lost friends, 13 percent said they lost their partner and 15 percent said they suffered a financial loss.
“Many consumers still struggle to translate risk awareness into caution when it comes to online activity,” David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said in a press release. “With so many devices and online channels at our fingertips, it’s never been easier to post an unguarded message or accidentally share information with the wrong people. If you are not cyber savvy enough, and you don’t have the proper security and privacy safeguards in place, you could be left with shattered friendships and careers. Once it’s online, it’s there forever – so if in doubt, keep it to yourself.”
This isn’t the first time researchers have found that sharing too much online can negatively impact your relationship. Alexandra Solomon, a psychologist and author of “Brave, Deep, Intimate: 20 Lessons to Get You Ready for the Love of a Lifetime” told The Huffington Post that too much sharing can cause a rift in your marriage, specifically if your spouse posts something that you would rather not see online.
Solomon told the story of Carolyn and Thomas, a married couple who one day went to the zoo after Carolyn called in sick for work. Thomas posted a picture of Carolyn online, even when she asked him not to.
“Even though he didn’t intend to hurt or betray her, he could see the impact of his choice was hurting her,” Solomon said.
The couple used the moment to open up with each other about their social media habits, specifically about why they felt they needed to post more or less and how they could do so effectively without ruining their relationship.
But that isn’t to say you and your spouse shouldn’t share anything about each other on Facebook. As I wrote about in February 2015, a study from the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture found that couples who post updates about their relationships are happier than those who don’t.
In fact, a similar study from 2014 found that married couples who post on Facebook about their relationships are also more satisfied with their marriages. Specifically, the study found couples who include their spouse in a profile picture or relationship-related status were happier with their partner.
“You can stop the eye-rolling,” wrote Kate Hakala for Mic. “The road to a happy modern relationship might be paved with the same tagged statuses and selfie shots that you’ve been posting for years.”
So what do you do if you want to share details about your relationship, but also are worried about the consequences? Here’s a list of four tips from experts to keep yourself safe online.
1. Make sure you’re Facebook official
Like the aforementioned study, research published in Computers and Human Behavior found that couples who put their relationship status on Facebook had happier relationships. Couples feel more committed when they see that their partner wants to share their relationship status with the public, the study said.
“These days, becoming ‘Facebook official’ – declaring the status of your relationship publicly on your social media profile – is an established phase in the relationship life cycle,” The Daily Dot reported on the study.
2. Check your security settings
In a list of tips accompanying the survey, the Kaspersky Lab suggests Facebook and social media users double check their security settings to make sure any unwanted parties don’t see your information. This includes deciding what content certain friends and users can see, like if you want just your friends to see a post or if you want it exposed to the entire public.
It’s also possible that fake friends will attempt to add you to their profiles, since social media users want to include as many friends as they can on their lists. If this happens before you have a chance to change your settings, you could end up with a lot of unwanted guests reviewing your content.
The Kaspersky Lab suggests making these changes early and not accepting the first follows and friend requests you receive.
3. Don’t check Facebook before bed
Alicia H. Clark, a licensed psychologist, told The Huffington Post that checking Facebook too often before bed isn’t good for your relationship, either. It could deny you intimate moments with your spouse, and may make you seem like you’re more focused on what’s going on in the realm of social media than your spouse.
“As I’ve told clients, avoid social media (and screens) at least one hour before bed in order to help you get the best sleep possible and so you can engage with your partner instead. Keep the bedroom a screen-free zone,” Clark told HuffPost.
4. Share your Facebook profile
It’s a big step, sure, but it’s something that many couples are doing these days. According to the Pew Research Center, American couples have decided to share passwords, profiles and email addresses in this modern age. In fact, 8 percent of couples share a social network account, and 14 percent of couples who have been together for more than 10 years share an entire profile.
“It’s about timing,” wrote Amanda Lenhart, lead author of the Pew report, in an emailed statement to The Huffington Post. “[I]n many cases these couples were together when they first started using the technology and began using it as a unit, while those who have been in a relationship for a shorter period of time were still independent actors when they first set up their accounts.”
If your relationship’s looking to go the distance, sharing a profile may be a good start.