In Costa Rica, Couples Use Facebook as a Tool for Espionage.


Facebook is the most popular online social network in Costa Rica. It is extensively used for various purposes, particularly for checking up on romantic partners. This activity that is quickly catching on among couples of all ages. According to a survey performed by polling firm Unimer and commissioned by Grupo Nacion, 16 percent of Facebook users in Costa Rica use the social network as a tool for spying on their spouses and romantic partners.

The Unimer survey used 800 Facebook users in Costa Rica between the ages of 12 and 75. The Ticos and Ticas polled reside in the Greater San Jose Metropolitan Area (Spanish initials: GAM) and are active Facebook users who check up on status updates on a daily or weekly basis. According to Valeria Lentini, Unimer’s lead on this survey, the percentage of people who use Facebook to spy on their partners in Costa Rica has more than tripled over last year.

Online Espionage
Daily tabloid La Teja interviewed a young Tico named “Diego” whose girlfriend warned him of her expertise in online espionage using Facebook and other surveillance tools well into their relationship. For that reason, the young man did not allow La Teja to use his real name: He is afraid that his girlfriend would find the online news story that mentions him complaining about relationship quirks.

According to this young man, his girlfriend pays attention to every status update, picture and comment he makes. She is also adept at using a combination of online search techniques and Facebook’s Graph Search beta to find out when he is mentioned by his Facebook friends. According to Diego, this is not the first Tica he has been involved with whose jealously was technologically enhanced by Facebook. To avoid uncomfortable questioning and arguments, he is careful when it comes to using the social network.

Newspaper reporters Karen Fernández and Andreas Cordero of La Teja interviewed a woman from Heredia whose best friend is also an avid Facebook spy. Her friend checks up on her boyfriend often, and if she sees a simple greeting from one of his former lovers on his Timeline, her jealousy meter goes way up, accusations begin and a lovers quarrel ensues.

Sociological and Legal Issues

Psychologists and sociologists interviewed by La Teja commented that couples should discuss certain things upfront and not dwell why someone does not change his or her relationship status on Facebook to reflect their current romantic situation. This type of online espionage is more prevalent among Latin American cultures than in Europe.

In Costa Rica, Facebook postings and status updates may be introduced as evidence in court. In contested divorce proceedings, for example, Facebook evidence can be used to prove adultery, which is considered a breach of reciprocal fidelity implied in a marriage. Dissolution of marriage by mutual spousal agreement can only take place during the first three years; after that, it must be contested.

In the case of civil unions as well as in romantic and interpersonal relationships, excessive Facebook surveillance to the point of obsession can be introduced as evidence for the purpose of proving harassment or cyberstalking.

Article by Costa Rica Star

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