Securing Sexuality is the podcast and conference promoting sex positive, science based, and secure interpersonal relationships. We give people tips for safer sex in a digital age. We help sextech innovators and toy designers produce safer products. And we educate mental health and medical professionals on these topics so they can better advise their clients. Securing Sexuality provides sex therapists with continuing education (CEs) for AASECT, SSTAR, and SASH around cyber sexuality and social media, and more.
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Navigating Breakups in the Digital Age: Protecting Privacy and Security
In the digital age, where personal information is easily accessible, and relationships are often shared online, the importance of privacy cannot be overstated. This is particularly true after a breakup when emotions are high, and the risk of revenge or online harassment is a concern. Let’s explore the significance of privacy and mutual deletion in the digital age and provide practical tips on protecting yourself after a breakup.
The Impact of Technology on Relationships:
Technology has revolutionized how we communicate and share information. With the proliferation of social media platforms, instant messaging apps, and cloud storage, our personal lives have become increasingly intertwined with the digital realm. While these advancements have undoubtedly made it easier to connect with others, they have also created new challenges regarding privacy and security.
The Importance of Privacy in the Digital Age:
Privacy is a fundamental right that should be respected and protected in all aspects of our lives, including our online presence. After a breakup, maintaining privacy becomes even more crucial as emotions can run high, and the temptation to seek revenge or engage in cyberbullying may arise. By safeguarding your personal information and limiting access to your online activities, you can prevent potential harm and maintain control over your digital identity.
Mutual Deletion - A Crucial Step for Moving On:
One crucial aspect of protecting yourself after a breakup is engaging in mutual deletion. This involves removing any digital traces of your relationship, such as shared photos, messages, and social media connections. By mutually deleting these digital artifacts, you can create a clean break and reduce the risk of stumbling upon painful reminders or encountering unwanted contact.
Practical Tips for Protecting Yourself After a Breakup:
Seeking Legal Assistance: If you are experiencing severe harassment or threats online after a breakup, it may be necessary to seek legal assistance. Consult with a lawyer specializing in cyberbullying or online harassment to understand your rights and explore available legal remedies.
In the digital age, privacy, and mutual deletion are essential for protecting yourself after a breakup. By taking proactive steps to secure your personal information, remove shared content, and control your online presence, you can minimize the risk of harm and confidently move forward. Remember, your digital footprint should reflect the person you are becoming, not the person you once were. Stay vigilant, assert your boundaries, and prioritize your privacy in the digital age.
Stefani Goerlich: Hello and welcome to securing sexuality. The podcast where we discuss the intersection of intimacy
Wolf Goerlich: and information security. I'm Wolf Gorlick.
Stefani: He's a hacker and I'm Stephanie Garlick.
Wolf: She's a sex therapist. And together we're gonna discuss what safe sex looks like in a digital age.
Stefani: And today we're talking about Ted Lasso, right?
Wolf: I will be bringing up Ted Lasso in this episode. You're not wrong. You are not wrong. We're getting there. That is certainly one of the things I want to talk about.
Stefani: You see, guys, sometimes when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much, but they're not able to make things work together, professionally or personally, Daddy has to move to London and take over an underperforming soccer team.
Wolf: That's right. That's exactly how it works.
Stefani: So anyway, we're talking about digital breakups today.
Wolf: So we're breaking up.
Stefani: But not literally. I'm keeping you. I'm sorry you're stuck with it.
Wolf: Yeah, that's good, because I don't know anything about soccer or football.
Stefani: Which is really what would make it even more amazing to watch you try and coach a team. I think we should make this happen. The Defcon versus Black hat - We don't sport tournament.
Wolf: And in an amazing turnaround, Wolfgang’s.. What do they call them? Club? Team?
Stefani: Club in the UK
Wolf: -group? Wolfgang's wolf pack? I don't even know what it's called. Did you say club? All right, -club is doing amazing. And I'm like, That's it. Pretend you're running an exploit! No, but, uh, you know, in all seriousness, breakups are not easy. They've never been easy. But there are certainly more steps involved today with technology.
Stefani: I mean, it used to be that a guy and I would break up. I would reclaim whatever I had left at his place that I didn't want to never see again. I would give back anything super important, but most of the time you didn't, right? You hold on to the T-shirts and the love letters, and now we have that same sort of process. But most of it isn't in a shoebox under the bed. Most of it is in cloud storage connected to our phones. And that adds a new layer to the breakup process that I think we're just now starting to think about and create an etiquette around.
Wolf: Yeah, and You know, for the record, I've lost many a hoodie, and that always bothered me. Why don't you guys and girls ever give back their shirts? I don't understand that part.
Stefani: Uh, because they smell like you guys. I mean, it's not about the t-shirt. I can get a Tiger's t-shirt anywhere, but you can't get a t-shirt that smells like your ex-boyfriend anywhere.
Wolf: All right, that's fair. OK, fine, fine. Well, if anyone has, you know my smelly shirts and would like to send them back, we'll give a PO. Box at the end of this episode. However, you know, speaking of Ted Lasso, one of the things that I thought was really intriguing about one of the episodes was how they talked about deleting photos from exes, right? Like you've broken up and any photos they have sent to you, you should delete. And I like that. I think that's nice. I think that's a great way to make sure that you don't inadvertently cause harm to an ex. Right?
Stefani: I suppose, Although, I, I guess you know, I kind of wonder what falls into that. You must delete category. And what are we allowed to hold on to out of nostalgia. What is the, you know, crumpled-up love letter or the first date receipt? Or the smelly t-shirt equivalent of pics, videos, and voice memos?
Wolf: Well, uh, certainly things that are not X rated or R rated, I think would be OK. But, uh, any of the spicier shots
Stefani: And see, that's I think one of the things that becomes tricky is because so many PG photos can be manipulated to turn them into spicy pigs, especially if somebody's frustrated with how a breakup is going or not feeling as if they were treated fairly. The urge to lash out has been responsible for a lot of revenge porn, and it's makes an intuitive sense to say You have to delete the spicy stuff. But anything PG can be nostalgic. But the PG things can be turned into the spicy things these days.
Wolf: Well, I mean, this is where we get from a mutual good breakup to perhaps a bad breakup. So I think in a lot of this episode we're gonna be talking about the bad breakups. But for the good breakups, if you wanna be a good person, and you want to break up in a good way. I think you should be respectful of any X-rated material or R-rated material. Um, I think if you have any shared accounts, you should log off of them. I think that one time where your girlfriend logged into her email on your laptop and she forgot about it. And you still have that session up so you can read her email. You probably should let that go. And I know a lot of those things are not gonna be easy to do, but you should log off of those things, exit gracefully.
Stefani: OK, I want to back up a little bit because I would like to think that it would not take a break up for my boyfriend to be like, Oh, I'm in her personal email and I'm not supposed to be here. I should exit out of that. Why in your scenario are people allowed to read each other's emails until there's a breakup?
Wolf: Well, I think it's oftentimes, oftentimes the case that you may have access to your partner's email or video game accounts or social media accounts because you're dating and there's no harm. There's no foul. There's nothing. We're not to the creepy breakup part of the conversation yet. This is just a normal breakup conversation where, if you know, you have those things, like if you log into, uh, her Netflix, maybe log off of it. There's a number of different accounts that are shared. And oftentimes, I mean, I've logged on, uh, I to my personal computer. I wanna be very clear about this when I'm talking about work computers. But I've had personal computers on travel trips and, uh, and the girl I was dating logged in right to her email or whatever. And next thing I log in to Gmail, it's got her account and like, Oh, OK, and I you know, I don't really think anything about it. I'm not using that. But if I see that and we've broken up, I think the gentlemanly thing to do is to log off, maybe log off earlier, if that's what you're saying. But certainly after a breakup.
Stefani: You know, I mean, I'm a people deserve privacy and autonomy, even in relationships advocates. So I'm gonna say, if you happen to notice in the middle of a very healthy and loving relationship that you're logged into something you're it's not yours. Just go ahead and log out of that. You know, it doesn't need to be a it doesn't matter because we're still dating and that I am never gonna think about it. So it doesn't matter. I think that people should be given digital space, even in a relationship. Um, but yeah, I definitely agree that we need to develop a culture of shared and mutual deleting when breakups happen. Because how do you know, Right? Like it almost needs to be a part of that final breakup conversation or that final handing or exchanging of cardboard boxes of stuff. Just sit down on the couch side by side and watch each other erase your stuff and, you know, clinically, a part of me feels like that could be a really powerful thing that could be a really healing or at the least, a very cathartic final thing to sit together and be like And now we are erasing this part of our shared digital history together. Um, and I wonder what that moment will be like for people emotionally as it becomes a more normalized part of what it means to end a relationship today.
Wolf: I like that. How you said that; “a culture of shared and mutual deletion.”
Stefani: I mean, it sounds vaguely like “mutually-assured destruction” too.
Wolf: So, I just love how you make everything sound very clinical and very, uh, very intellectual. “We should establish a culture of shared and mutual deletion”
Stefani: I only speak in $5 words. I wish I could turn it off, but I just - I'm a nerd. Don't know what to tell you.
Wolf: It's adorable. But I think that is what I would like to see. We sort of saw that in Ted Lasso, I'd like to see that more in the world. I definitely encourage that with our kids that when you're done, you should be done. And it can be hard, because if I do have access to accounts and I miss the person, I may want to look at this, or I may want to look at that right. It's natural to just want to see one more time. You know what what they're saying or what they're thinking, but let's let's now move in transition to the not-so-friendly breakups where the person is perhaps taking that natural need to reconnect and going too far. Where they are, perhaps stalking. I know you have a little bit of history in helping people through these types of processes, right? For a while you were working on that side of the house.
Stefani: I mean, that makes it sound, I think a lot more fancy than I was. Are you thinking about working as a domestic violence therapist?
Wolf: Yeah. I mean, I. I wasn't trying to make it sound more fancy. You're the one who always, uh, there was an establishment to which I…
Stefani: So it just made it sound like I was doing like this amazing, like, technology intervention work when, really, I was chilling at the domestic violence shelter, but yeah, this has become something that is an inevitable part of breakups. And when things end gracefully, you have that moment to kind of do it together. But when there is a bad breakup, or when somebody has to exit a bad situation, the idea of that mutual deletion isn't there, right? They are walking away from a situation that you know, there are reasons why it's ending. There are reasons why they're walking away, and the idea that they can trust that their ex is going to take care of their intimate photos or shared videos or chat history or any number of things isn't necessarily there. And that can be a really scary thing for a lot of people, especially people who are, you know, not fully out in their sexual or their gender identity to have a breakup with a same-sex partner when I am not out. And then to have that go poorly and to have the fear of them revealing information that would tell the world more about me that I'm ready to share at a given moment. These are all real and present concerns on people's minds today.
Wolf: They are. And so you know, this isn't a stalkerware episode, but like the nuke option. And if you're you're really concerned about this, and you're concerned about stalkerware or being spied on and everything. Obviously, the nuke option is to wipe your phones and reload your computers. Uh, because trying to give any sort of, like, guidance on how to find, Hey, what if what if this partner installed or put something in there is very difficult. Uh, so if you really think they're being stalked, wipe your phones and wipe your computers. There's many, many other things that you know we can talk about and we should do. But that's the worst-case scenario up front.
Stefani: OK, But even then you're saying, Wipe your phone, swipe your computers. That doesn't take the pictures that I sent to somebody else off of their phone or off of their computers, right?
Wolf: No, no. And this is in part, you know, with a lot of these things, you've got to solve it with, uh, proper culture and proper norms and behavior and proper implementation of technology. So with your tech side, if they are stalking you, if they are tracking you and you're concerned about that, there's a lot of other steps that we're gonna take as we talk through the, you know, during this episode. But that's like the nuke option. You cannot spy on me anymore.
Stefani: How do I protect myself from the things that they don't delete. Can I erase their computer? Can I erase their phone?
Wolf: Well, I mean, you could, But now we've really escalated. Like I broke up with you. I'm erasing your phone, too.
Stefani: But what are my options? If it is a bad breakup, if I can't trust that they are going to protect my images, protect my reputation?
Wolf: And all that is protection moving forward, right? You can't necessarily go back and undo or unring anything that you've done with the normal way of sharing of photos with the normal way. You know that the and by normal, I mean, at the time of recording this episode, the normal way that people exchange things is there's not a lot you can do if you can't solve this on the culture side, if you can't solve this with that, uh, culture of shared and mutual deletion.
Stefani: So what do I do when things go sideways? What are my first steps?
Wolf: Uh, first step is always and I think everyone who knows me knows I'm gonna start here. Is, uh change your passwords, change all your passwords. Uh, enable multifactor, if you don't have it on there if you do have multifactor on there, um, check what Multifactor is available. You and I went through this, Um, we seem to go through this every couple of months. Uh, so a bit of a disclaimer. I like complex passwords and I cannot lie. And I can't remember the password to one of our accounts. And so every once in a while, I've got to log in with you and your password and to make that accessible to me, I've added my phone for multifactor. So I log in with your username and password, and I log in with me as multifactor. Uh, it is funny and hilarious. The security guy doesn't know his password, but it's not so funny. Not so hilarious. If someone has gotten into your email, your chat, your social media, and added their own phone number or own email address to your recovery or to your multifactor. So you wanna double check those things, So make sure you can really lock down your accounts. And by doing that reset any existing session. Like if if you've logged in on one of their computers or if it's you know if you've left a tablet over at their house and the tablet has your email on any of those things are gonna be logged off.
Stefani: Is this where we tell the story about how password sharing and having access to each other's accounts can create problems even when you're happily in a relationship? Is this where we tell the story of, um, Wolf hacking my bank account and his?
Wolf: No, that is that is not a story that needs to be recorded or published. If you guys want to know that story, it is possible that that story may have happened. It is possible I will share that in public, uh, or rather in private with you. But we're not putting that out on the live.
Stefani: But the point is even in happy, healthy relationships. When information is shared, it can create problems.
Wolf: Yes. Yeah, absolutely.
Stefani: So I've changed my password. I've made sure that all of my multifactors are linked only to me. I am sitting in the feelings of my breakup and hopefully have some Ben and Jerry's. A good friend and a romcom going. What do I need to be thinking about moving forward to make sure that an ended relationship stays ended and that there is no, um, technology fallout or technology consequences.
Wolf: Well, one thing is, um, location services, right? If they're going to be following you around or stalking you, you wanna make sure that they can't determine your location. So you're gonna want to, um, you know, turn off- I like turning off location services, period, but for a brief period, you may want to turn it off. I understand the benefits of having it on your phone, but in in for a brief period. Uh, disable those services. Uh, double check your travel sites. Right. So we were just talking about social media, But what about, um, where you book your flights? What about, uh, where you, you know, rent cars or do ride-share services? Uh, what about trains and subways? And you know, the underground and all that sort of stuff, Right? So double-check your travel sites. Uh, make sure that the any partner can't, uh, get into those and see what you've been, uh, booking or where you're going. Um, we've heard so many creepy stories where, you know, they broke up and they had the bed of Jerry's. And they romcom they like, let's go to a girls weekend and they fly out to this, uh, you know, place for girls weekend. They show up, and then the ex is standing there at the airport waiting for them with this idea that this is gonna be some romantic, you know, special moment. They're gonna reconnect, uh, and it goes very sideways and makes everyone uncomfortable. So make sure you got those on lock. Also, you know, um, from a, uh, apps perspective, like dating apps. Um, you know, if you can't set your location so it's manually, a lot of these apps will have it, um, shout out to Bloom, by the way. So, uh, Bloom is, and this isn't a sponsored episode, but just dawned on me that Bloom is a good example for this. And they’re also, of course our sponsor of our conference coming up here. But bloom will allow you to do that right. You can either use GPS of exactly where you're at. You can say, here's the city I'm at, and I would highly encourage you set it to the city.
Stefani: Yeah, definitely. Guys, I know everybody loved the eighties and the John Cusack holding the boom box above his head or, you know, love. Actually them like jumping the security line and running down the gates like very rarely is meeting somebody in a non-local location a pleasant surprise. These are not the grand gestures you imagine them to be. They're a really great way to make somebody a little bit freaked out more than turned on. So let's rein those in. Let's let Hollywood do Hollywood and maybe let your exes live their lives without you. So what about the dates that stay home, right? What about the you and I have been living off of rim and doordash for the last six months, and frankly, honestly, maybe that's a part of why we broke up. But now that we've broken up, I still want to be able to play Skyrim, and I still wanna be able to order Doordash, and we've been sharing those accounts for a long time. What do what do we do? How do we ensure that moving forward you can't mess with my high score, and I can't send 70 pizzas to your house?
Wolf: Well, are you paying for the pizzas, or am I paying for the pizzas?
Stefani: I mean, if I'm using your doordash, I'm gonna assume you are paying for the pizzas.
Wolf: Uh, well, all right. So on the financial side, and this is again, this is a step that you take when you know the person is has your information and is going to use it against you, right? This is if you know that they have your credit card in their doordash or uber eats or wherever. Um, you may want to request a new credit card, go to the bank. Um, you know, put it as a stolen card, Have them send you out a new card number. The card number will rotate. Um, this is, of course, a deal of work because you have to get it set up. You have to ask for that. You have to wait for it to come. You have to actually click the button. That's a whole other story. We had a lost card, and I kept getting ready to do it. That would I don't think I ever actually clicked the button. So it was, uh, like, three times. I think I would. I know I did this. But anyways, so you you actually have to follow through on it. And then because your card numbers change and the auto payments, you have to change. So I wouldn't start with “Oh, by the way, change your credit cards.” But it's very easy for if you've had a serious relationship, it's very easy for your partner to have those cards. I know for a fact that, uh, on your doordash Stephanie and and and your uber eats and everything else you got both your card and my card, right? I mean, just Well, who's paying it for this and who's got budget, Right. This is how we how we roll in our household. So you wanna do that. You also want to like unfriend. Uh, block. Uh, you know, remove anyone. You know that you can remove your partner from your accounts and unfriend them from them. Course. Friends of our friends are a thing we all know, like husband broke up. And you, uh, block them. And yet, um, their other friend has a girlfriend who you became friends with. And now there's a screenshot and going on and sharing more weird, they need to chill out. But, uh, isn't a full stop, as we know, but at least it can reduce things for the examples that you gave so to change your cards block or unfriend, um, you know, remove addresses obviously from your phone for your partner and, uh, and the cards from your partner. If it's a good breakup, this would be part of the good breakup process, too. That shared mutual deletion, delete the doordash and uber eats and everything else, uh, accounts that you've shared.
Stefani: Remember that your Venmo and similar apps will show people what you're doing. Turn that off, guys. Nobody needs to be knowing I. I don't care that my second cousin is paying back her college roommate for cocktails in a Tulsa Girls' night. That's not a priority for me, But if we don't know to go in and turn those settings off, we are giving up a lot of information to those friends of friends and, um, just be thoughtful about how you share information after a breakup and who you might not realize can see those things. I think that's a really important point. Thank you for that Wolf.
Wolf: And I think along with that is, hey, developers, why the heck do you keep trying to make everything social? I mean, I don't I don't get the value. I know we want it sticky. And I know there's there's value in creating networks. Um, right now I'm reading a book called The Cold Start Problem That talks all about building those networks and and power, you know, improvements for startups and whatnot. This is what I do for fun. This is why I'm so much fun.
Stefani: And then he makes fun of the words I use just saying we're both nerds.
Wolf: Oh, I mean, that's why we love each other. But, uh, you know, I get that there is a desire to do that. But one of the things that has always frustrated me is, um, the APP developers don't make this any easier, right? The idea that all my purchases are shared, I mean, I've I had, um I did some business with a consultant four years ago, and I still get notifications that he's, like, transferred money to his wife. And he's done this. He's done that. I'm opening it up as now as we talk. Yeah, uh, he sent money to his kid for quote pants and to a friend for concert tickets. Um, yeah, yeah. I don't know why this is shared.
Stefani: I promise you, developers, nobody is scrolling Venmo on a Saturday night. Please, just turn off the feed. It's not necessary. And it's probably getting people in a world of hurt. Um, OK, so we've navigated the good breakup where my soon-to-be ex and I sit side by side and have a cathartic moment of deletion on the couch. And we've talked about some strategies to protect ourselves when the breakups are suboptimal and where we don't get that option to make sure things are deleted. What about when I'm ready to start putting myself back out there again? What about dating apps and dating websites and profiles and social media after a breakup? What do I need to be thinking about?
Wolf: All right, so dating apps. All right, you're you're ready to get back out there. Um, as a has mentioned like you know, to maybe don't set your exact location. Maybe don't use the exact same photos you're using with your other partner. Uh, so that your your account doesn't look alike. Some sites, some dating sites will allow you to, um, block ex-partners right by entering their ID or their mobile number. I like that because you don't wanna be, uh, swiping or browsing or answering questions or anything. And then have the dating site match you with your ex. So investigate the site you're using to see if you have that option. And I really do like that option for anyone who's building a site. Uh, and of course, you know, again, good password. Not a shared password. Multifactor not a, um, you know, not, uh, without multi-factor. Normal things on dating sites. Make sure that you're you're having a good conversation. It really is the person - we've heard stories where people got matched with their partner but didn't know it right. It was their partner with a fake account trying to figure out what they were doing. What was that story?
Stefani: I mean, that's happened dozens, if not thousands of times at this point where somebody is suspicious that their partner is cheating, and so they'll set up a dating website as well and seek out their partner and effectively catfish them to get the proof that their partner is catfish and therefore cheating.
Wolf: I'm not even sure how you could prevent that. Obviously, if they're using the same name or the same phone number or the same email address, what I said earlier about blocking them would would do it.
Stefani: More importantly, guys, if you've gotten to this point, the relationship's done. Don't worry about whether or not your partner is cheating on you. If you're so concerned about that, that there has been such a core breakdown in trust that you are catfishing one another to confirm whether or not you're already cheating or just likely to cheat, put down the phones, turn off the computers and have a real long and hard conversation about what is happening in your relationship. Because if that is happening, y'all need couples counseling and that's OK. It's OK to need help, but this is not a healthy road to go down.
Wolf: And if that is happening and couples counseling is not on the table or couples counseling leads to uncoupling. Remember, we want to create a culture of shared and mutual deletion. All right with that. Thank you so much for tuning in to securing sexuality. Your source of information you need to protect yourself and your relationships.
Stefani: Securing sexuality is brought to you by the Bound Together Foundation, a 501 C three nonprofit From the bedroom to the cloud we're here to help you navigate safe sex in a digital age.
Wolf: Be sure to check out our website, securing sexuality dot com for links to more information about the topics we discussed here today, as well as our live conference in Detroit, which you can get a ticket for using the code pod POD15. That'll save you 15% off your registration fee.
Stefani: And join us again here for more fascinating conversations about the intersection of sexuality and technology. Have a great week, everyone!