Hidden Risks of Facebook Quizzes
Where should you vacation next? Which fictional book character are you? Tell us your favorite ice cream flavor and we’ll tell you who you should marry! Quizzes like these are all over social media and they’re even more prevalent now thanks to “quarantine boredom”. It’s likely you’ve seen a friend or two (or nine or ten) share their results and maybe even tag you so you can take the quiz, too. But you might want to think twice before clicking the “take now” button and filling out one of these seemingly innocuous online quizzes. As with everything these days that exists on the internet, they could pose a risk to your online security and privacy. What exactly are the risks? What can you do to protect yourself from them and still partake in a harmless quiz or two? Read on to find out more…
What does Facebook do with my Information?
A lot of times, if you take a quiz via a third-party website or app, you’ll need to grant that third-party access to some or all of your information as it’s displayed on your social media profiles. This process is called social media mining. It is the process of gathering data from user-generated content on social media and mobile apps in order to extract patterns and form conclusions about users that will help businesses effectively engage with them online. In most cases, this information is used to target advertisements from businesses and influencers; most recently this data has been used for political campaigns.
Facebook allows third-party developers to request access to your information through more than 40 different “permissions”. Most often these developers are asking for permission to access your “public profile”. This is information you’ve made public through Facebook and it shows up when someone searches for you on Google. It can include:
- Your name, profile picture and cover photo
- Schools you’ve attended
- Jobs you’ve held, including your most recent employer
- Facebook username and ID
- Age range
Once the developer has gained access to this information, they can maintain that connection for months afterward, repeatedly requesting additional information about your profile and the things you post. Developers can also request additional information, but this is information that will require an “app review” from Facebook before granting access. This information includes your email address, phone number, friends lists, posts, tagged locations and more. While Facebook does have strict rules in place that tell developers what they can and cannot do with your information, there’s very little enforcement. For this reason, it’s best to be critical of any developer requesting access to your info and remain vigilant of the ones to whom you do grant permission.
As with anything, the main concern with sharing too much information is the risk it poses to your security and privacy. At a time like this, when internet use (including social media) has spiked, scammers are cashing in on the opportunity to swindle sensitive information from the least suspecting user. Be leery of any quiz that asks you highly personal questions like the name of your first-born nephew or the make and model of your first car. These are often common security questions; with these answers, scammers can hack your bank and credit card accounts. While not every quiz is a scam, the Better Business Bureau is cautioning users to be extra careful of what they share online.
How Can I Protect Myself?
Common Sense Media has put together a list of five things any family can do to make sure their time spent on social media is safe. It’s always best to stay on top of the most recent online marketing methods as well as check in on your privacy settings every once and a while. Beyond that, they suggest:
- Being careful of quizzes, even seemingly harmless ones.
- Being mindful of the information you’re sharing. You can see what info is being requested when you click on any third-party app. Review this carefully before granting access.
- Utilizing privacy settings on social media platforms and reviewing them constantly. Discuss privacy settings and their importance with children.
- Using two-factor authentication.
- Deleting old accounts and updating passwords regularly.
Social media is a powerful and wonderful way to connect with the word, especially at difficult times like the ones we are facing. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” when it comes to the safety and privacy of you and your family.