How much information is safe to share on social media? Simply, none. Many social media users succumb to the ease with which personal information could be shared with a mere ‘share’ click. The trove of personal information showcased on social networking sites implicitly facilitate online intrusive behavior (e.g., obsessional relational intrusion), which could lead to more aggressive behaviors (e.g., stalking). Victims of stalking often experience psychological impairment and adverse mental outcomes due to perpetual threat, fear, and intimidation. Social media has popularized deviant intrusive behaviors; nevertheless, stalking has mostly been studied in the forensic population. More research is needed to examine obsessional relational intrusion in the general population and the psychological distress (e.g., anxiety, depression, sleeplessness) experienced by unsuspecting users.
A recent study examined 377 adults in a romantic relationship (dating, committed, or married). Results indicated that psychological distress is linked with obsessional relational intrusion behaviors and mental illness. However, mental illness was neither linked with obsessional relational intrusion nor moderated the relationship between obsessional relational intrusion and psychological distress. It is noteworthy that participants who reported mental illness were being treated for their mental illness.
We recommend cyber-education to help users recognize the disadvantages of sharing personal information online. Share knowing your personal information will inevitably get into the wrong hands.
Bottom line: Be stingy in sharing personal information online.