Love and Connections: Who Gets Custody of Passwords in a Breakup? | Tech News


By LEANNE ITALY, AP Entertainment Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Emily Taffel didn’t take the password away when she divorced her first husband, and she didn’t cut the boyfriend who followed. Now remarried with four stepchildren, she continues to be a model of civility when it comes to exes and hookups.

The 41-year-old woman from Coral Springs, Florida, and her first husband had no children, lots of money and owned no home when they divorced. What they had were subscriptions to Netflix and Hulu.

“We each paid for one of them and shared. It was literally our divorce agreement,” Taffel said. “It was written in there. We always do.

When boyfriend Sam arrived but the romance ended three years later, they maintained close ties and joint custody of additional services, sharing connections and cost to date between them and the ex-husband. by Tafel. Taffel and her current husband added more and shared more than a decade after her first marriage ended.

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“I know that sounds crazy,” she said. “Ex-boyfriend and ex-husband are not friends, but through me, everyone is very friendly.”

In this age of cybersecurity concerns and calls for a multi-factor lockdown of all things digital, this approach points to a thorny question when love goes awry: what to do with connections?

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans who are in a relationship share passwords on nearly every digital platform, ranging from social media to email and cellphones to mobile wallets, said Harold Li, vice president of encryption service ExpressVPN. .

“In the digital age, sharing passwords is a sign of trust and affection akin to the gift of a letter jacket or an exchange of school locker combinations,” he said. “However, while it may seem like a romantic gesture at the moment, it poses serious risks to your privacy that even the closest relationships need.”

And when relationships end, whether romantic or friendly, he recommends a thorough “digital divorce.”

Sisi Cronin, 33, of Napa, Calif., is still logged into her college boyfriend’s Netflix account, with her own profile. Although they don’t live near each other, they remain friends after breaking up when she was 23.

“Once, about three years ago, he sent me some kind of funny message saying, hey, Netflix decided to limit the number of people who can tune in, would you mind having your own? And I just responded saying I’d rather not. We haven’t talked about it since,” she said. “When you have all these different subscription platforms, it’s ideal not to pay for them all of you, right?”

Nick Leighton of the label podcast “Were You Raised by Wolves” likens changing shared passwords after a breakup to returning the sweater left by the ex.

“Be aware that when someone finds out their connection is no longer working, it will be a clear reminder that the relationship is indeed over, which can hurt,” he said. “In a relationship, asking someone for their password can make some people uncomfortable, so it’s often better to wait for them to volunteer to share than to put them on the spot. It should also be noted that sharing passwords could potentially violate the Terms of Service.

Things don’t always go well when connections aren’t severed after the breakup.

“Change the password. In the age of widely available perpetual surveillance logs, no one wants to know their ex just watched “The Notebook” on Netflix. It stirs up all kinds of emotions,” said John Capo, assistant professor of communication at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

“Were they thinking of me when they watched it? Who did they watch it with? Why did they wake up at midnight anyway? Remember when we were watching “The Notebook?”

Brian Penny, 40, of Tucson, Arizona, doesn’t have the heart to leave an ex out in the cold on his HBO Max and Hulu accounts.

“She’s struggling with work and it costs me nothing, but it shows her name because she added herself as a profile,” he said. “I wonder what the next girlfriend will think of seeing another woman’s name in my account. I’ve already thought I’d say it’s a cousin or a friend.

Hari Ravichandran, founder and CEO of digital security provider Aura, noted the prevalence of password sharing among some, but cautioned against it.

“It’s no secret that sharing passwords is a way for consumers to circumvent the cost of paying for multiple services,” he said in a statement. “What consumers don’t consider is that these behaviors make them vulnerable to digital crime when people outside your household — even those you trust — have your passwords on their devices.”

Researchers have found a variety of reasons people maintain streaming ties after a breakup — convenience, finances, and post-breakup friendships. A downside: When a vindictive ex deliberately wreaks havoc with algorithms to mess up ads and viewing suggestions, or creates a profile to excite a current love interest. A sharer said the parents of an ex stayed on one of his sites for two years after their split and sent him an unannounced gift card as a thank you.

Chandler Sterling in Los Angeles appears as a generic “guest” profile on the Netflix and Hulu accounts of a longtime ex-girlfriend. He also uses his parents’ cable TV subscription with his Apple TV to access virtually everything, including sports.

“Yes, I’m 34, and yes, I make over six figures in my job, but I won’t pay anything if I don’t have to,” he said. “My ex never directly confronted me about the guest profile on Hulu. On Netflix, she changed the guest account profile picture to the guy from the show ‘Lucifer’, so I think she sends me a message about how she feels. … I have no guilt for all that cloak and dagger mooching.”

Penny said he’s not sure if or when he’ll pull his ex back.

“Our relationship didn’t end well at all,” he said. “I think part of me leaves him alone so she leaves me alone. The peace of mind is worth it.

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