Skip to main content

Facebook is watching your love life, knows when you'll break up

Facebook already knows "what's on your mind," what you like, how to tug your heartstrings with a nostalgic look back video, and now it claims to know all about your love life too.

A group of data scientists studying the social network has released a series of studies centring on the social network as a barometer of how long those butterflies in your stomach are going to last, before being swiftly digested and flushed away to oblivion.

The scientists aggregated anonymised data from hundreds of millions of Facebook users for the study. It will come as no surprise that a person's timeline reveals a lot about themselves, and by combing through countless millions of them, the results show that Facebook can be a handy indicator of whether your love will last.

According to the data, Facebook can predict exactly when you're about to make the leap and enter into a relationship with someone. How does it know? Because it can count the number of interactions between you and your future lover right up until the point you change your status from "single" to "in a relationship".

"During the 100 days before the relationship starts, we observe a slow but steady increase in the number of timeline posts shared between the future couple," explained Carlos Diuk, one of the data scientists on the study. "When the relationship starts ('day 0′), posts begin to decrease. We observe a peak of 1.67 posts per day 12 days before the relationship begins, and a lowest point of 1.53 posts per day 85 days into the relationship. Presumably, couples decide to spend more time together, courtship is off, and online interactions give way to more interactions in the physical world."

Given that almost 20 per cent of the world population (that's more than 1.3 billion people) is active on Facebook every month, that's a lot of posts between fledgling couples. The social media science team has also established that during this period, users see a spike in "happy" posts (though how they established this without infringing on privacy is unclear).

The study also found that couples who declare their love for one another publicly by "making it official" on Facebook are more likely to stay together for at least four years if they manage to keep their passion alive for at least three months.

Fall out of love, however, and it found that we fill the human-shaped void in our lives with up to 225 per cent more Facebook interactions. The posts will spike on the day you change your relationship status back to "single", followed by a 50 to 75 per cent increased use over the coming weeks.

Would you be "Facebook official" with someone on Facebook? Do you agree that it's a good barometer for a relationship's success, or is it just an invasion of privacy that this study only serves to illustrate?