We've all done it at least once or twice. While scrolling through our Facebook feed, we stop and take a few minutes to fill out that personality quiz or survey everyone is sharing. Which Disney character are you? Are doughnuts really a breakfast food? How many Beatles top hits can you name? Where would you go if you could travel anywhere in the world? Etc., etc., etc...
Some are serious, some are fun and some are altogether silly - but one thing they all share in common is that you could easily say, "Everyone is doing it."
Most of these posts in your feed are completely harmless. But the downside is, that's not always the case. Every now and then, there are ulterior motives hiding behind these seemingly innocent puzzles, surveys and games. (Click here, and read this before you take a Facebook quiz again.)
Right now, one of the most popular memes, or viral posts spreading around, is the "10 Concerts I've Been To" survey. Maybe you've seen it. Maybe you've even participated. It looks like this:
The object of the post is to list nine concerts you've attended and one you haven't. Your friends are then supposed to prove how well they know you by identifying the single concert you've lied about.
On the surface, the post seems innocent enough. However, most people don't realize how they're leaving themselves vulnerable by providing this information.
How this post can be used against you
Here's the problem: One of the top security questions for many sites is "What's the first concert you attended?" If you think back to all of the online accounts you've created, you can probably think of at least a few where you've selected this as a security question.
So, what once seemed to be a harmless post on Facebook that demonstrated your personality, has now made it much easier for someone to hack your online accounts without your permission. You've narrowed it down to 10 guesses, without meaning to.
Another reason you might want to steer clear of this post (and others like it), is because marketers can use the information you share for targeted advertisements. This form of tracking is something we've warned you about before, and it's not only tied to the things you're posting. Click here to see how Facebook's tracking everything you do, and how to opt out of it.
How to protect yourself
Avoiding this particular scam is, fortunately, quite simple: Resist the urge to share this information publicly on social media. And this isn't the only question you should be wary of. Just think about all of the security questions you've used for your accounts, and never release any information that someone could use to hack into your profile.
Here are some common examples:
- Your mother's maiden name
- Your high school best friend
- Your high school mascot
- The name of your first boyfriend/girlfriend
- The model and make of your first car
- The name of your first pet
- The name of your favorite movie
- The city you were born in
- The name of your favorite or specific type of teacher (ie. first grade teacher)
- The name of your maid of honor/best man at your wedding
- The name of the street you grew up on
These are some of the most common questions you'll encounter, but there are many others out there too. As a rule of thumb, it's always best to share as little information about yourself online as possible.
Beyond the basic step of not participating with the post, there are some additional steps you should take to ensure your Facebook account is private and secure.
First, be sure that logging into your account requires two-step authentication. This way, anyone trying to log into your account without your permission won't make it far. Two-step authentication provides a second layer of protection by requiring a code be entered at login. You should also request login alerts, which notify you if anyone has tried to access your profile. Click here for step-by-step instructions that walk you through the process.
Next, it's time to dive deeper into Facebook security. From adding trusted contacts to signing out of your account remotely, click here for five pro Facebook secrets that lead to maximum security.
Finally, scratch the idea of "sharing is caring" from your Facebook and social media dictionary. Just because Facebook asks for private details like where you went to school, where you work and your relationship status, doesn't mean you have to include them in your profile. In fact, you shouldn't. Click here for five details Facebook asks for that you should never give.