In a survey of 1,308 U.S. adult Facebook users, University of British Columbia researchers found that 24 per cent — or more than one in five — had snooped on the Facebook accounts of their friends, romantic partners or family members, using the victims’ own computers or cellphones.

“It’s clearly a widespread practice. Facebook private messages, pictures or videos are easy targets when the account owner is already logged on and has left their computer or mobile open for viewing,” said Wali Ahmed Usmani, study author and computer science master’s student.

People admitted to spying on their friends, family, and romantic partners out of simple curiosity or fun — for example, setting a victim’s status or profile picture to something humorous. But other motives were darker, such as jealousy or animosity.

“Jealous snoops generally plan their action and focus on personal messages, accessing the account for 15 minutes or longer,” said computer science professor Ivan Beschastnikh, a senior author on the paper.

“And the consequences are significant: in many cases, snooping effectively ended the relationship.” –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story where the conflict is driven by Facebook snooping.

Journaling Prompt: How would you feel if you found out someone you trusted was snooping through your private messages?

Art Prompt: Facebook snooping

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the phenomenon of Facebook snooping and give them the steps to prevent it from happening to them.

Photo Credit: York VISIOn on Flickr

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