We know it's tempting. You've seen that quiz going around that all your friends seem to be taking. It's a personality quiz, and that's right up your alley. But, wait a second. Before you take it, you might want to think twice.
Just recently, there was a scary survey going around on Facebook that wound up being a huge security threat. The survey was called "10 Concerts I've Been To," and the scammers were using it to learn the answer to users' login security questions. If you missed the full story, click here for all of the details.
We get it. These quizzes are fun. We all enjoy taking them, but they can also have a negative effect on your privacy. Just like the example previously mentioned, developers of these Facebook quizzes could use them to access the details listed in your Facebook profile, including your religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, photos, groups you're part of, events you've attended and more.
Even if you're not a big quiz taker yourself, you probably have Facebook friends who are. And, in some cases, when your friends take or share a quiz the developers could gain access to the details in your profile. Now that's scary.
How social media quizzes collect data
It's important to point out that, in most cases, people who take these Facebook quizzes actually give the developers permission to access this information without even knowing it.
Have you ever seen something like this pop up before you've downloaded a Facebook app, or taken a Facebook Quiz?
Beyond the disclaimers that are mentioned by the developers, Facebook also includes the following disclaimer on its Privacy Update page:
"When you use third-party apps, websites or other services that use, or are integrated with, our Services, they may receive information about what you post or share. For example, when you play a game with your Facebook friends or use the Facebook Comment or Share button on a website, the game developer or website may get information about your activities in the game or receive a comment or link that you share from their website on Facebook. In addition, when you download or use such third-party services, they can access your Public Profile, which includes your username or user ID, your age range and country/language, your list of friends, as well as any information that you share with them. Information collected by these apps, websites or integrated services is subject to their own terms and policies."
That last sentence is really scary. "Subject to their own terms and policies," is Facebook's way of warning you that third-party developers may have a different set of rules that they follow.
This is why it's extremely important that you always read that fine print to see exactly what it is you're agreeing to.
Other risks of Facebook quizzes
It's safe to say that not all of the quizzes you see on Facebook are proven scams. In fact, many of them are legitimate quizzes that are fun and harmless. But keep in mind, scammers are hoping their scams won't stand out, which is what makes them so difficult to spot. Here are some additional ways scammers use quizzes to trick you.
Like Farming: Data collection isn't the only thing scammers are after. Quizzes are often used in a scam called "Like Farming," where scammers create a piece of click-worthy content, then swap it out for something else once the post has gone viral. Click here to see how Like Farming works, so you won't fall for it.
Credit card fraud: If a quiz offers you some type of reward for taking it - or worse, asks you to pay - be extremely skeptical. If you're asked to enter any identifying information about yourself or your credit card number, it's likely a scam.
Malware: Scammers are smart when it comes to hiding malicious code in places you wouldn't suspect, and quizzes are prime targets. Links, images and other elements within these quizzes may be laced with viruses that can infect your computer, phone or tablet.
Protect yourself from social media
Be aware: Quizzes are one of the easiest tools fraudsters can use because they're so popular. They spread rapidly as people share them. With that in mind, be skeptical of any quiz that shows up in your feed. Look into it first, before you participate.
Keep your privacy settings tight: If you haven't updated your Facebook Privacy Settings in a while, it's a good idea to check them out now. Under "Who can see my stuff?" click "Friends," or, "Only me." It's also a good idea to review your Activity Log and edit posts you've been tagged in.
Remove details from your profile: Facebook asks you all sorts of questions when you set up your profile, but that doesn't mean you should answer them. In fact, less is more when it comes to what you share since much of your profile information is automatically public. Your profile photo, for example, can be seen by anyone. So can other details you list, such as where you went to school, where you grew up, where you work, etc. Click here for five critical details you should never share on Facebook, even if you're asked to.
When in doubt, play it safe: If you're not sure whether or not a quiz is safe, it's probably best not to click on it.