Study: 88% of Facebook users track their exes post-breakup

Posted Jul 19, 2012 by Leigh Goessl
A new study says that almost 90 percent of Facebook users that experienced a breakup in the last year check up on their exes through information shared on the network.
Petr Kratochvil
Digital Trends reported the study, conducted by a Western University student completing her Masters' thesis, found people can't resist looking up their ex on Facebook.
Veronika Lukacs, who is preparing to defend her thesis, titled the study It’s Complicated: Romantic breakups and their aftermath on Facebook. She had hypothesized the social network increased post-breakup distress and feels her theory was correct.
Niagara Advance reported Lukacs said, “I wanted to see how breakup distress is related to Facebook use. What I found was that whether you were on Facebook all the time or not, your distress level changed based on how much surveillance you were doing (post break-up).”
“The more surveillance there was, the more distress there was, but it’s difficult to say why,” Lukacs said. “Does surveillance make you more distressed, or are you distressed so you do more surveillance? My hunch is that it’s a bit of both.”
The study sampled people who had broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend within the last 12 months. The participants filled out a survey and shared their breakup experiences and participated in an interview conducted by Lukacs. The study found 88 percent of respondents (referred in several media reports as "creepers") checked out their ex's Facebook page, and almost 75 percent of respondents also visited the page of their ex's new (or suspected) partner.
So to delete an ex or not to delete?
She also noted that deleting an ex as a friend is also helpful, but not completely. A conclusion Lukacs came to was people should always change their Facebook passwords after experiencing a breakup, as even if the "Facebook friendship" is severed, some will still seek out information on the network. Several of those surveyed admitted to hacking their ex's profile or being hacked themselves.
All Facebook notes that Lukacs also found many people are hesitant to break ties on Facebook.
"Deleting seemed to be really effective but it depends on the severity of your creeping behaviour," Lukacs said. "Some people are active Facebook creepers and seek out information while others are affected by what comes up on their news feed.”
Other related Facebook findings included 48 percent of people do not delete their ex as a Facebook friend, 70 percent use a mutual friend's profile to access information on an ex, 52 percent admittedly jealousy over an ex's photos, and 31 percent posted pictures as an attempt to make their ex jealous.
Earlier this year Facebook had conducted a relationship-related analysis. The network found user relationship changes often relate to the season.