Do you know what Disney princess you are? What about which Game of Thrones character you are? Do you know how long you’d survive in the zombie apocalypse?
If not, then you must not have been playing along with the many different Facebook quizzes. These quizzes are common diversions on the social media platform, and they’re generally harmless fun. But lately, some of the quizzes on social media have been a lot more invasive, largely because of the registration process that’s required in order to join in the fun.
One such quiz is the “Most Commonly Used Word” test. In this one, you fill out the registration form to take the quiz, then you give permission for the quiz’s creators to access your contacts list, your photos, and your previous history of posts. They’re even going to find out your computer’s IP address, which browser you’re running, and what type of computer or mobile device you’re using. This glob of sensitive content is presumably so the game’s creators can sift through all of your past posts and figure out which one word you used the most. Again, all in good fun… or is it?
With the sheer amount of information the developers gathered on you, it’s possible that you just set yourself up for a serious privacy invasion. Even if you didn’t have to provide your Social Security number or a credit card number, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to serious damage from this type of oversharing. Also, you didn’t have your friends’ permission to share their contact info with these strangers, but that’s exactly what you just did. Your friends’ list—and photos of your friends with their names tagged in the image—all just became the legal property of the quiz developers.
The main concern is that the game’s developers are actually gathering your information in order to sell it to retailers for advertising purposes. That might seem harmless enough, but you have to remember one crucial detail. If legitimate advertisers can pay for your contact information, so can scammers. Don’t be surprised if your Facebook feed, your friends requests, and even your email address are suddenly targeted with sleazy offers or phishing emails after you turn over your personal data like this.
Fortunately, in the case of the Facebook Word Quiz, the developers have stated that they do not store any information on their servers and therefore don’t have any gathered information to sell. If that’s the case, though, they’re asking for a lot of sensitive information for no apparent reason, and that’s something you should never feel good about giving out.