There’s a New Facebook Game…Should You Play?
Social media can be fraught with peril and pitfalls, especially for people who don’t know how it really works. It’s all too easy to share personal photos and locations, highly-sensitive information about yourself, and more.
But one of the chief culprits that internet users need to be wary of is the common quiz or game format that is intended to steal information from your account or your computer. There are a wide variety of quizzes and games—“What Disney Princess Are You?” or “Your Most Commonly Used Words on Facebook,” for example—and they’re supposed to be mindless fun. Unfortunately, all too often, they turn out to be data miners that rip your contacts list, your personal information, or other sensitive content from your social media accounts. What people don’t realize is that entering your info to play the game is actually giving permission for the creators to do that.
But with the rise in popularity of a new Facebook game, “Be Like Bill,” experts are already asking what the catch might be. “Be Like Bill” started out as a tongue-in-cheek superiority meme. In the original post starring a stick figure in a woolen cap, readers were told in Dick, Jane, and Spot-style writing to basically behave themselves on social media. It quickly morphed into a game that lets users input their names (any name, really) and be given a best-guess spit out of themselves in the stick figure’s starring role. There’s no claim at all that this is accurate, and the result seems to be about as random as a fortune cookie.
Why are so many people sharing a computer-generated quiz result that makes no claim about accuracy? After all, it’s not like this game actually went through your Facebook posts to see what kind of person you are. And after viewing numerous iterations from actual users, it also appears that there are only a handful of possible outcomes for the meme.
They are benefitting, but it seems to be harmless on the surface. Blobla is a site dedicated to spreading those horrifically clickable articles that pop up everywhere online, the ones that most users call “click bait.” By entering your information, playing the game, and then spreading the results of the game on your Facebook page, you’re increasing the number of visitors to their site and making them look more viable to advertisers. Again, it’s harmless, but serves their purpose.
The only problem in the terms of service is that Blobla specifically states that they don’t control what happens to the cookies on the site after you click. Other internet providers can decide what happens to those. It sounds a lot like the case of sexting platform Snapchat; the video service lets its users send anonymous videos that “disappear” instantly upon being watched, making it ideal for sending less-than-pristine videos of yourself to someone. Snapchat claimed that they didn’t store any of the videos, hence the safety in sending compromising content. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Snapchat’s servers that users had to fear, but the cellular service providers’ servers. AT&T, Verizon, and other carriers have their own terms of service, and yes, they stored the videos…which were promptly hacked last year and uploaded online.
At the risk of raining on anyone’s social media parade, it’s important to ask yourself what good can come from clicking on a link, inputting your email address, or otherwise playing along with websites that you’re not familiar with. Be Like Bill might be a silly way to pass a few minutes on your phone, but the next game might be far more dangerous if you don’t know what you’re getting into.