Why you shouldn’t do those Facebook quizzes – and how to disconnect from them

If you’ve been on Facebook recently, you may have see the online quiz that creates a ‘word cloud’ from all the words you use most regularly on the platform. It has gone viral – and its a classic example of why you shouldn’t hop on those ‘harmless’ quizzes that your friends seem to have so much time to do.

Time To Ask Yourself A Simple Question

So whether you’re asked ‘what is your signature pop song’, ‘what historical figure you are’ or ‘what literary figure you most resemble’, just ask yourself why the quiz-makers have bothered.

After all, it’s not up to them to decide how you pass your time. Those tacky adverts down the side aren’t going to pay their bills.

The UK-based VPN comparison site (yes, there are such things) Comparitech looked into the information the word cloud quiz ‘needed and discovered it asks for your name, birthdate, hometown, education details, all your Likes, photos, browser, language, your IP address and even your friends list if you link it with Facebook.

That’s quite a lot to ask when creating something from your public utterances.

Many quizzes and games ask for similar amounts of seemingly superfluous information. They may also ask you to authorize the connection to the social network, to make sure you share your results in the hope that the quiz goes viral. If you don’t allow the sharing, the chances are that the quiz doesn’t function.

It’s About Control

The big issue with all this is that once you’ve handed your data over, you can’t control what is done with it, even if you never use the quiz again.

These games are simply data harvesters and, buried deep in the privacy policy you ‘sign’ when you connect, is often the permission to continue to use your data even after you disconnect from whatever tempted you in the first place. And that often means sharing your data with third parties – clicking that permission button has already allowed that.

The only safe way to deal with such things is to never use them in the first place, but you can alter what the quiz/game app can access.

How To Get Rid Of Facebook Apps

To get rid of older apps you already authorized, simply click the lock icon on the top right corner of your Facebook page and go to “See More Settings.” You can see the “Logged in with Facebook” list under the Apps section — click “x” to remove any application that you don’t trust or recognize.

There’s an element of watching a sprinting horse as you close the stable door about that approach. Abstention is your best policy – because even if you don’t worry too much about your own privacy, by sharing the app and your data, you could be making your friends more vulnerable too.

Want to stay connected to the author? Follow Jimmy on Twitter

Written by Jimmy Leach

Jimmy Leach is a digital consultant, working with governments, organisations and people. He tweets at https://twitter.com/JimmyTLeach

Leave a Reply