Posted in parents and technology

Quizzes? Fun, but Each Quiz Wants Your Information

If like me you get a kick out of taking Facebook quizzes and sharing your results with friends, it’s time to think a bit more about caution and privacy. Have you ever wondered why these quizzes pop up on your account? Parents, teachers, and students all need to understand that these quizzes have little to do with entertainment and lots to do with getting people to part with personal information.

What is an IP Address?
What is an IP Address?

If you do not know much about online quizzes, and you take them or are tempted by many of them, spend a few minutes reading What You Need to Know About Online Quizzes and Surveys over at the Webroot website and Facebook Quizzes: What Happens to Your Data at the BBC. Essentially, when you take a quiz you freely give out your personal information — and it’s not just the answers you provide, but also the data you allow the quiz creator to access. You also give up a bit more of your personal privacy and may have a small app installed on your Facebook page.

The Webroot article presents a sample quiz, one example that demonstrates how corporate collectors lure people into providing sensitive health data while having fun with a quiz about longevity. Once information is shared on a quiz, it can be stored, reshared, or used without that individual’s permission, and each user’s IP address provides enormous opportunities for the quiz maker to connect the dots to many associated IP addresses.

The BBC article, which specifically discusses the “most words used on Facebook” quiz, sponsored by a South Korean company that used the quiz to collect up all sorts of personal information that users offered up when they gave access to their Facebook data while taking the quiz.

I took this quiz ages ago. I had no idea that it had installed an app in my Facebook settings.
I took this quiz ages ago. I had no idea that it had installed an app in my Facebook settings. Each of these can be set to share info in several ways — only me, friends, friends of friends, etc.

A Few Interesting things to Remember

  • Companies create many quizzes for single purpose — namely to collect your personal information or including the IP (internet protocol) address of your online connection (Every device has one of these numbers when it logs on.)  Read more about IP addresses at How Stuff Works website.
  • If you take a quiz means you give your IP address freely and the quiz sponsor or data aggregator uses your information, perhaps connecting it with others who might associate with your address.
  • Go to a quiz site and read the terms of use.
  • If a quiz asks you for permission to access Facebook data, contacts, friends, photos, etc., be cautious.
  • Quizzes sometimes install apps on your Facebook account  — apps that you did not sign up for . Go to settings and look at the installed apps that and consider deleting those that are merely there because of quizzes (I had four installed). Otherwise these apps continue to collect information from you — long after you have forgotten about the quiz.
  • Watch out for Facebook memes. They may be hackers or fraudulent sites.
Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 7.34.41 PM
Check your apps!

Best Quote from the BBC Article

Security expert Lisa Vaas has some simple advice for people considering playing such quizzes.

“As much fun as it is to see what cat you’re most suited to or which Disney Princess is your soulmate; if you have to hand over the keys to your privacy to find out, repeat after me: it’s not worth it,” she wrote in the Naked Security blog.

We all need to know that quizzes aren’t just for entertainment!

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