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The Versa Networks Blog

Research Lab

How Often Do Americans Snoop Online?

By Versa Staff
Versa Networks
April 26, 2022

Whether it’s a new coworker, an old college friend, or a potential date—we’ve all been guilty of scrolling through someone’s social media accounts to collect new information about them and get a peek into their lives.

With the power of snooping always at our fingertips, it may be tempting to go down the rabbit hole of others’ information at all times. Whether it’s scouring social media feeds of professionals, family members, friends, or even strangers, curiosity fills our minds with questions about others we’d prefer not to ask. 

For many, this type of behavior is harmless, because we all can admit, we’ve all been guilty of being an internet sleuth and doing some lurking at least once. As different technologies provide a number of opportunities, online snooping is happening more often. But how often?  


For this study, we targeted our questions to more than 2,000 respondents state-by-state for two weeks. Respondents were asked to divulge how often they view other people’s social media profiles, ranging from multiple times a day, to a few times a month. Each response was assigned a number value on a scale of 0-6, with “I don’t view others profiles” at a 0, to “I view others profiles multiple times a day” at a 6. From there, we determined the average rating for each state in order to compare snooping levels around the country. States with higher scores spend more time snooping on others online.

Respondents were also asked a series of snooping-related questions like the applications they use most to snoop, who they’re viewing the most frequently, and more. Our goal was to learn more about America’s online sleuthing habits and online activity. What do people view on social media? How often do they view others’ profiles? What applications do they use to snoop online? Does internet browsing have an impact on mental health? 

States Who Snoop the Most Online

So, which states are snooping the most? Tennessee rated 11.9% above the national average with the highest score of 4.54. Along with Tennessee, Michigan (4.49), Florida (4.42), Georgia (4.42), and Massachusetts (4.41) are the top 5 states that snoop online the most. 

Nevada, home of Sin City, ranked as one of the states who online snoop the least with a score of 3.34. Oregon (3.44), Iowa (3.66), Rhode Island (3.67), and Wisconsin (3.72) also occupy their time with other activities than online snooping.

Generational Breakdown of Online Activity

Older generations like to point the finger at younger ones for being “addicted” to their phones, but each generation does a little snooping—just some more than others. According to their self ratings, the generations online lurking the most are Generation Z and Millennials, while Generation X and Baby Boomers fell slightly behind in their internet sleuth game.

1 in 6 Generation Z respondents say they have created a fake profile to view other people’s profiles, while 3 in 5 Gen Z and Millennials say they browse through people’s accounts multiple times a day. 

Emotional Impact of Snooping

In an effort to avoid social media’s negative impact on a person’s mental health, different features have been introduced by social media platforms, like Instagram hiding the number of likes. These changes are a small effort to combat mental health issues that come with social media, but how does staying up-to-date with someone else’s feed affect a person mentally? 

Although most respondents admitted to not having an emotional response to online snooping (48.4%), others experienced envy (23.8%), motivation (20.4%), lowered self-esteem (19.5%), sadness (15.9%), lust (12.6%), and self-esteem boost (10.9%).    

One in two Gen Zers and Millennials say viewing other people’s profiles has a “negative” impact on their mental health, while more women (40%) experience a “negative” impact on their mental health when viewing people’s profiles online than men (28%).

Americans’ Social Media Viewing Habits

Technology has changed the way we live. In many ways for the better, but social media can be viewed as a healthy or unhealthy habit. 80% of our survey respondents said they frequently browse their friends’ social media profiles. 56% of Generation Z respondents are taking a peek at celebrities’ profiles, the most of any generation. 

Friends’ profiles are the most viewed by Americans while 70% of Generation X is keeping up on their family members’ social media profiles. Only 19% of respondents regularly keep tabs on their ex-partner(s) profiles.

Whether you’re refreshing your Instagram feed religiously or you’ve taken a deep plunge into someone’s Twitter page, snooping is something we’d like to keep to ourselves. 46% blame curiosity as the reason they snoop online, while 21% indulge in this habit a couple of times a week. But have you thought about how your snooping compares to others?

Keeping a close tab on a person’s life on social media can negatively impact your wellbeing. 36% of our female respondents say they’ve had to cut back on online snooping because of the effects on their mental health. 

Snooping online isn’t only limited to profiles. Snapmap, an optional feature on Snapchat, allows you to track all your friends on the map, but 75% of male respondents say they have never used apps like Snapchat to view people’s locations. 

Be honest, do you or have you ever created a fake social media profile to check out what someone’s up to anonymously? Only 10% said they have made one to keep their identities hidden. Another 10% is confronting someone they’ve caught red handed. 

Most Popular Applications for Snooping

Love it or hate it, we all find ourselves mindlessly scrolling through social media apps, but which one is the most popular for sleuthing on others? Except for 21.5% of respondents who said they don’t use apps to snoop at all, Facebook (56.9%), Instagram (49.9%), and Twitter (23.7%) are America’s favorite social media apps to use for internet sleuthing. 

A lot of Americans find themselves snooping on professionals on LinkedIn (14%) and content creators on Tik Tok (14%). Snapchat (11.2%), YouTube (9.9%), and Zillow (2.3%) were also included. 

Closing Thoughts

While sleuthing online is normally harmless, online snooping can sometimes lead to cyber stalking, and can lead to someone gaining access to your emails, instant messages, chats, banking information, and social media accounts. 

Cybersecurity is the state or process of protecting and recovering computer systems, networks, devices, and programs from any type of cyber attack. With our society being more technical than ever and an increase in cyberstalking, the importance of cybersecurity is on the rise. Data leaks can result in personally identifiable information (PII) ending up in the wrong hands, thereby putting consumers at risk.

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