Joint Facebook accounts not for everyone

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Danny Burnham
Many married couples are deciding to create a joint Facebook account, instead of having two separate accounts. (Danny Burnham)

While there is no way to officially combine two accounts on Facebook, some couples are choosing to “merge” their Facebook accounts.

Joint social media accounts can help promote unity and transparency in marriage for some couples, according to BYU faculty. But for others, merging Facebook accounts indicate a lack of personal identity and trust.

“I feel that everyone should merge their account. Married couples are supposed to be ‘one’ and this helps in the process,” said Deana Archibald, who currently has a merged account with her husband.

When a married couple merges their Facebook page, they’ll often choose one of their accounts to use from that point forward. They will change the name to include both spouses.

The spouse whose Facebook account will no longer be used will add their friends to the new account, but all their photos and posts will stay on the old account. Couples may also create a completely new account for both of them to use together.

“I’m not opposed to having a joint Facebook, but it just depends on the circumstances. I feel like it’s an old person thing. My parents have a shared account,” said BYU student Dan Addington, who has been married for three years.

Hayley and Ricky Olsen decided to merge their Facebook accounts after getting married. Hayley had heard about flirting and affairs that had come about from married people adding old acquaintances or romantic interests as friends on Facebook. However, they eventually chose to have separate Facebook accounts again.

“The reason we finally split accounts again was because he had so many people that he would friend from work, the Air Force, high school, family, etc. that I had no idea who they were. I tend to be more picky about who I friend,” she said. “I felt like I was doing a lot of scrolling rather than actually learning about what was going on in people’s lives that I knew.”

For some people, merging social media accounts indicates a loss of individuality.

“It’s two different people with two different lives. You don’t automatically become one person when you get married,” BYU student Kenzie Koehle said.

Joint Facebook accounts may not be ideal for some couples but may work well for others.

“I think it’s great! All sorts of misunderstandings can happen on social media,” said Sarah Coyne, Associate Director of Human Development in the School of Family Life at BYU.

According to several family relations specialists, decisions made in relationships should be made out of trust for one’s partner, not distrust.

“Whatever the choice, the key is that it represents trust. If you do merge Facebook accounts, it shouldn’t be because you don’t trust your spouse,” said Jeff Hill, Associate Director of Family Studies in the School of Family Life at BYU.

Hill continued, “Both unity and individuality are healthy in a couple relationship. Unity is important in the major areas of relationships, like core values, religious orientation, mutual respect, etc. But some disharmony is health. It helps a couple to learn to communicate better and have healthy disagreements.”

As technology continues to play a huge role in society, there are increased amounts of studies on the impact of social media on relationships.

“There is a growing body of research on a concept called ‘Facebook jealousy.’ Essentially, the more time an individual is on social media, the more jealous their partner becomes, especially if they have an insecure relationship to begin with,” Coyne said.

Partners can access jealousy-provoking information while looking at the other’s Facebook account, like seeing unknown friends, especially of the opposite sex. This creates a sense of heightened jealousy, which in turn leads to increased surveillance of a partner’s Facebook page, according to a study done by the Psychology Department of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

The need to know their partner’s intentions on social media can become an obsession for many, according to the study.

“Merging accounts allows for more transparency regarding social media and would decrease jealousy in my opinion,” Coyne said.

Joint Facebook accounts is also a way to promote increased unity and trust for some couples, according to several family relations specialists.

“Trust is absolutely essential in building strong families and marriages. It is the foundation. In all we do we should be trustworthy and trusting,” Hill said.