Facebook use during relationship termination: uncertainty reduction and surveillance

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2013 Nov;16(11):788-93. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0549. Epub 2013 Jun 20.


Many studies document how individuals use Facebook to meet partners or develop and maintain relationships. Less is known about information-seeking behaviors during the stages of relationship termination. Relational dissolution is a socially embedded activity, and affordances of social network sites offer many advantages in reducing uncertainty after a breakup. A survey collected responses from 110 individuals who use Facebook to gather information about their romantic ex-partners. Results indicated that after breakup, partners may take advantage of the system's information visibility and the relative invisibility of movement depending on relational factors (initiator role and breakup uncertainty), social factors (perceived network approval of Facebook surveillance), and individual privacy concerns. This investigation addresses questions such as what type of information-seeking foci do individuals employ and how do individuals use Facebook as a form of surveillance? What factors motivate surveillance behavior?

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Perception
  • Privacy*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Social Media*
  • Uncertainty*