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Description: It has become fashionable for young people to express their affection for each other by sharing their passwords to e-mail, Facebook and other accounts.

Source: nytimes .com

Date: Jan 17, 2012

“It’s a sign of trust,” Tiffany Carandang, a high school senior in San Francisco, said of the decision she and her boyfriend made several months ago to share passwords for e-mail and Facebook. “I have nothing to hide from him, and he has nothing to hide from me.”

“That is so cute,” said Cherry Ng, 16, listening in to her friend’s comments to a reporter outside school. “They really trust each other.”

We do, said Ms. Carandang, 17. “I know he’d never do anything to hurt my reputation,” she added.

It doesn’t always end so well, of course. Changing a password is simple, but students, counselors and parents say that damage is often done before a password is changed, or that the sharing of online lives can be the reason a relationship falters.  Read Rest of Story

Questions for discussion:

  1. What are the privacy issues that are at stake in this story?
  2. Is there any upside to sharing your password with someone else?

16 Responses to “Young, in Love and Sharing Everything, Including a Password”

  1. CAP

    It’s interesting that the writer would even compare sharing passwords to sex. I guess I can see the writer’s point of view. Alot of people like to rebel and not do the things they are told. There really isn’t alot that is helping to stop sharing passwords or having sex which may be the cause of this ongoing problem.
    My opinion on sharing passwords with friends or significant others is that it’s really up to the people who are involved. If they feel like they can trust each other with their passwords then go ahead let them have it. People know the consequences of what they are doing and if they don’t feel like they are hurting anyone or feel that it’s not a big deal then let them give it out. If the result of giving out their password is not what they wanted then that was their choice. They will just have to suffer the consequences because it was their decision to give it out. There can be so many horrible stories people have heard of about giving out their passwords, but in the end it is that person’s choice to make. They just have to deal with whatever result comes from it.

  2. IDR

    I agree with CAP, the bottom line on this subject is that everyone is free to do what they want when it comes to passwords, but they have to deal with the consequences.
    My personal opinion is that everyone has the right to privacy. Most of us give our passwords away to our girlfriends/boyfriends due to social pressure. When you don’t provide your password, you are being seen as suspicious and people even tell you that ‘you’re hiding something’. I think that if you really trust someone there is no need to even ask for a password, (they will most likely give it to you anyway). In my case, my wife gave me the password for her email and facebook within the first couple of months, I didn’t even want it and I made sure she knew it. She was obviously hinting that she wanted my passwords but I didn’t give in, not because I was hiding something but because I really value my privacy. And really unless you know you’re going to end up marrying that person you should not give your password away for your own benefit. In the mean time, what I did was to let her peak at my email and facebook while I was on it without restriction.
    End of story, this girl became my wife. She has all of my passwords and I have all of hers, we never really get into each other’s emails unless we need something.

  3. Sarah

    This article describes the issues and benefits of trading social networking passwords, email passwords, and phone passwords. I would say trust is the most deciding factor as whether or not to give out a password to someone else. Most teenagers have private information that they only want a certain group of peers to know about. If these conversations were made visible to the wrong people, feelings could get hurt, and reputations could be ruined. Therefore, the decision to give out your password to another peer is very risky unless they are trustworthy. As someone in a long-term relationship, I don’t see any need for my boy friend to have any of my passwords or for him to have any of my passwords. Communication is the key to any relationship, lovers or not. If I ever felt he was keeping something from me, the trust is broken. There is no need for us to exchange passwords to find out if we trust each other or not.
    The only upside I can see to exchanging passwords is if one person is unable to share crucial information from an email or other such message and the other person needs to know that information. If they both have the password to the email account the message came in on, it is easy for either of them to retrieve.

  4. Awesomeness

    First off, password sharing being compared to sex? Ridiculous.
    Next, I would like to say that it is NOT a sign of trust to hand over all of your passwords to your boyfriend/girlfriend. The act of even doing that signifies distrust, because most people want those passwords for their own benefit (ie. snooping on their partner). Trust would be NOT sharing your passwords with each other and knowing in your heart that your partner is not doing anything they would need to hide – you trust and respect them enough to preserve their privacy. As IDR said, I would only ever share my passwords with someone if I knew I was going to marry the person – and even then I still wouldn’t care for it.
    In my opinion, everyone is entitled to their own privacy. And as illustrated in the article, there are so many privacy issues that come from sharing passwords. People can send out vicious emails/texts that can hurt you and others around you, they can delete your important emails, change your Facebook status to something embarrassing/absurd, and so forth. Really, with password sharing,the negatives severely outweigh the positives. So, no I do not think that there are any real solid benefits to sharing your passwords with anyone.

  5. Scotty

    I totally agree with CAP on this topic aswell it is completely up to the user whether or not to give out their password, there is always consequences to these actions but i am sure everyone who does decide to share their password knows these consequences and clearly trusts the people that they are giving their passwords to enough to entrust them with it. People inherently are good and therefor once trust is established between two good friends it seldomly happens that the keeper will backstab the person who entrusted them with their secret. I do however think that there are several advantages of sharing passwords, for example if someone gets reported missing, their steps can be traced and the sites are not locked out. I really do like the idea about students sharing their passwords in order to shut down their facebook pages for a short period of time to take away the huge distraction that it pozes and constant checking to see what your freinds are up to in the time that they could be studying and preparing for what is really important, those grades which are going to determine where you end up in life and as simple as passing or failing a course. Another reason it is good because often parents will overhear passwords and this lets them the ability to check up on their kids!

  6. _

    I have been married for going-on-two years now, and social media and e-mail still scare me because of their potential to fuel disasters in relationships. ANYTHING, if misused can lead to hardships. I read an article the other day saying that more and more divorces in the US and Canada are linked to misuse and mistrust through Facebook. Sharing a password can be a scary thing and an invasion of privacy. When my wife and I were first married, we had our separate Facebook accounts, and we trusted each other. Both of us though have admitted to checking each others profiles every once and a while “just to make sure everything is in line”. We have since deleted our individual accounts and amalgamated them. Having the one joint account for whatever reason takes that pressure off. It’s not like we don’t trust each other, or are suspicious of bad behavior. The one account makes it OUR account. I think the biggest problem with giving out your password or trusting someone with your account is that you lose all control over what is yours, especially to young kids in high school. The results of the damage someone can do to you via online information are irreversible. Reputations can be destroyed, freedoms can be ruined, and deep secrets can be divulged simply because you decided to share a password.

  7. dns

    There’s a reason why there are passwords to things such as email and other networking accounts. It is your personal information and implies to other online users that it is truly you that is handling that account. If someone else had access to your password having the password to someone’s banking or email account poses a different threat. Your personal information such as your address, credit card accounts, or your children’s names are no longer protected if someone else is able to access them if they have no legal use of having that kind of information.

    There are many advantages and disadvantages to this topic, it just depends on your opinion of what you believe is the point of when someone crosses the line of your privacy. Depending on the situation, sharing passwords could have an upside. For more serious situations such as credit card fraud or identity theft, it may be helpful to trace information of who had access to that information if it was meant to be confidential.

    Personally, I think it is up to you to decide if you want to give out your passwords or not. I will admit I have given someone I trust my password to my Facebook account because that is not an area where I feel my privacy needs to be protected because I can easily change or report something that offends me. But I have protected my passwords to my email and banking information because I feel that information is exclusive to myself only and there is no need for someone else to know when was the last time I swiped my debit card and what I bought.

  8. Jillian Howard

    Individuals have the ability to choose whether or not they want to share their password with another. Certain “activities” require different passwords. I think each to their own if this topic is kept strictly to e-mail/Facebook passwords. I do not see why it is necessary to share a password if you are in a trusting relationship; however, simple situations occur that encourage you to give out your password without thinking twice. For example say your boyfriend is sitting at the computer and you say, “hey login to my Facebook so I can show you this video”, and he will respond “okay what’s your password”. A relationship should not exist if a password needs to be exchanged to ensure commitment.
    If you do share your e-mail/Facebook passwords, the one who you shared that password has the ability to read prior messages, reveal personal messages and send/post either negative or positive messages. This situation could in turn potentially ruin one’s dignity.
    An interesting point I never thought about before was sharing your password with a friend so that they could change it to something you wouldn’t know to prevent you from accessing that site. As the article mentioned this could minimize distractions. Although interesting, I do believe one needs to practise self-control so this situation would not be necessary.

  9. Garang

    One noticeable stake with privacy issue as illustrated in this story is a typical misused of password in any fallout relationship like the Boy who humiliated his ex-girlfriend through sending anonymous toxic email messages to her friends using her identity.This is a bad consequences of sharing passwords
    As you can see in this story, there is definitely an upside in sharing password. People in love usually show their devotion and trust towards each other by sharing password but when things heats up, the reverse is always too shocking. Before you even uncover your password, your significant other might change the password before you begin to do anything. The system automatically locks you out of your identity..very frustrating!!

  10. nelizer

    Sharing password is a ridiculous idea. For teenagers, being emotionally and mentally immature leads them to do such action that will harm them in the future. As what the research said that pressure from boyfriends play a major factor why some 30 percent of the girls tend to share their information. Kids believe that if they have nothing to hide then, they see no problem sharing passwords and those that don’t have trust issues and they expect most females to be suspicious if they didn’t know there other half email passwords whether they use it or no. This habit can lead to some hurtful and damaging misuse of passwords before they are hastily re-sets the password.
    Parents play a vital part in the life of these kids, one of the reasons why some kids are sharing their information because it gives them a sense of belonging.
    Lack of communication, abandonment and intimacy from the family is one of the major factors that lead them to do such crazy behavior.
    I will never shares my password to anyone because it’s inappropriate. For adults, it’s a matter of choice but for the kids it’s a matter of parental guidance. I don’t see any good effect of sharing password; it will just lead into a huge problem: such as cyber bullying, invasion of privacy and stealing of personal identity

  11. Rosemary Aladedunye

    Password sharing could as well be seen as access to my bank account. Even though, the bank account is paper money stored into it, my email is a personal information stored as a word. Teenagers give the password out to their boyfriend as a sign of love, is a sign of immaturity. When things are still going smooth, it is because somebody has not gotten angry. Anger exposes the deepest so call secret. You can love your partner, but trust must be earned. unlike young love (or infatuation?), Trust is earned over a period of time, in which the partner has demonstrated faithfulness in little things. So I will say, giving password to a lover should rather be a sign of complete trust rather than hot-headed love. In other word, giving out personal password does not indicate or prove the strength of love. So I suggest that teenagers would give time for love to mature with trust before any thought of handing their password. As it is often said, love dulls all senses, so it becomes difficult to truly know the character of your partner when love is not fortified with trust. What would you do if you discover that your guarded information has been divulged by somebody you least expected, presumably your “lover”?

  12. Ellie

    In the article, some persons think sharing the password is the performance of the trust between them. In my opinion, it is ridiculous. Do you love me? Tell me your password of the face book, MSN and mailbox. It is weird. First, the password is important for everyone. Keeping it as a secret is good for the safe of the network environment. For some teenagers, they would like to share their password to express they trust each other. However, everyone should have his or her private areas online, this behavior would destroy the privacy. For the teenager, we can understand that they are still young and are easy to “go with the stream”. If someone does not accept it, the others may isolate him. They still need adults to guide them how to trust each other. Secondly, sharing the password is not the sign of trust. For the some couples, they will share their password to contact with their family and friends more convince. Both two sides agree and will share the password with the other one, it is good. But for some person, they force their boyfriend or girlfriend to share the passwords; it could hurt the others’ emotion and be bad for their relationship.

  13. Jon

    The upside of sharing a password is that it shows a high degree of trust. It makes one completely transparent and shows that there is nothing to hide. This is probably the only upside. There would be certain circumstances in which I would give my password away, yet these would be very limited. Unless the person is related to me, and closely related (wife, child or parent) I would not give out any passwords. The risks are too high and I value my privacy too much. Everyone should have a right to their individual privacy. I don’t have anything to hide, but there is something unnerving knowing that someone else may be snooping into personal details, knowing every facet of your life. I have no desire to know every detail of other people’s lives and I feel that they need not know mine. If your girlfriend or boyfriend demands to know your password, he or she obviously has trust issues. For me, a relationship needs to have a degree of trust with mutual respect for privacy. Trust should not be measured by how much personal information one knows about the other.

  14. Morgan

    There are so many privacy issues that accompany sharing passwords. For starters, there is no guarantee that the person you share your passwords with will keep your passwords secret. You could be completely unaware that multiple people are spying on your confidential banking information or private letters between friends and family – and this is just the least intrusive possibility. What would happen if someone (either the person you shared your password with, or his friends who he gave your password to) were to send threatening or inappropriate messages to a friend or authority figure? What if people had access to your school information? They could remove you from classes or submit bogus assignments. There’s nothing to protect you from being bullied or blackmailed with sensitive information in your accounts. When sharing passwords there is always a chance of damaged reputations, sometimes beyond repair.

    There are few upsides to sharing passwords. The article mentioned a girl who let a friend change her Facebook password during exams so she would not waste time on the social networking site. Although it is a positive example for the student, it is a little pathetic it had to come to that. Another upside is monitoring the activities your children are up to online. I don’t think parents should analyze everything their children do, but it is important to make sure they’re not getting mixed up in drugs, sex, etc.

  15. JX

    The issue in this story is swapping or not swapping, even we can understand it as an issue of trust or not trust. In this digital era, almost everyone has email account, online bank, Facebook or Twitter. These are daily necessities for modern people. Furthermore, there is many privacy or secret in these. So a plenty of couples want to get the password of these in order to better understand their boyfriends or girlfriends. Sometimes, lots of people just think that swapping online keys is a symbol of they are in love. At the beginning of swapping online key, they do not intent to hurt other one. However, once the couples break up, someone will use the ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend online account to hurt someone. Moreover, because of the privacy or secrets in the online account, lots of people do not want share the online key to other, even though they are couple. People have this right. I have shared my passwords with my girlfriend, but not every password. I hide some passwords because I want to keep some of my privacy, not deceive her. If I do not tell her my passwords, it is like kind of not trust or not loving her. And I do not think she will do stupid thing on my online account.

  16. Mike

    I think I should start by saying that if there is such a lack of trust in your relationship that you need to check each other’s messages, texts, etc… then you should probably work on either building that trust or perhaps thinking about why you’re together in the first place. I have shared passwords before mostly because I didn’t want to be bothered to get up and log someone onto my computer, but in other circumstances where I had enough trust in the person to let them know my password. The privacy issues could potentially be severe if you have something to hide or are concerned about your reputation. On the other hand, as long as you keep your secret question private then you can change your passwords at the end of a bad breakup or when you lose contact with an old friend. I personally use a password I share with others on websites that are less used or safe for my reputation, where I keep a personal and private password for sites that I wouldn’t want others to be changing or snooping on. The upsides to password sharing are that it can mean trust (when it’s not used for “checking up” on your significant other) and may make your life easier when a friend wants to use your computer rather than having to get up and enter your password all the time. In closing, don’t share your password if you don’t trust the person and change your password if you have a nasty ex- who is out to get you!

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