Do you love to play those games on Facebook, you know, the ones that tell you what kind of girlfriend you should have or what Game of Thrones character you are? They are fun and great time killers and some of them even seem to tell us what kind of personality we have. I admit I have played from time to time. But, I’ve seen cautions from friends and others that playing those games gives hackers clues to passwords we might use or even gives Facebook (and the government, if you believe conspiracy theorists) information and insight for marketing and possible nefarious uses. So, I decided to take some time and do a little research to see if we really do need to worry about it. First stop Google, using the search term “Identity theft and social media.”

The simple answer is YES, we should worry.

The results page was, to say the least staggering, so I narrowed the search to just one year’s articles and that didn’t really shorten the list by much. ID Fraud is a big concern, as we all know from the Equifax fiasco. If you’ve been in hiding and don’t know what that is just Google “Equifax Id Theft” and you’ll find plenty of info, and because ID Fraud is such a big concern a whole slew of people have written articles warning us about social media and the possibility of identity theft. Of course I am not just talking about your ID, I am also talking about your passwords, your interests, your personal life. We have gotten so used to social media, as a rule we share everything. That is what I want to find out about. So my second stop, still on Google, because best research tool in the world! But this time I used “social media and personal information” and “do the personality quizzes allow hackers to access our information.” These two garnered some interesting results. But the answer seems to be the same. Here are some quotes I found in just a casual search:

From the ACLU  in Northern California: “Even if your Facebook profile is “private,” when you take a quiz, an unknown quiz developer could be accessing almost everything in your profile: your religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, pictures, and groups. Facebook quizzes also have access to most of the info on your friends’ profiles. This means that if your friend takes a quiz, they could be giving away your personal information too.” This quote was included in a very good blog on the website Fighting Identity Theft, which goes on to tell you what is shared and what you can do about it. I recommend reading the whole article.

Here is a video from NBC News. The news is actually quite scary.

Even the Better Business Bureau has something to say about this in their news page as people have been scammed by quizzes that ask for a phone number before revealing the answer and finding charges on their phone bills among other things. They offer suggestions as well, that you can read here. One last tidbit, guaranteed to scare the pants off of you. We may have elected our current president because of Facebook data collected by a data collecting firm. NY Times reported on this in an article you can find here.
This is real people! Not a conspiracy theory – according to the article above data collectors have much more information on all of us than the government. The bottom line here is that we should all stop taking those quizzes, any of them as fun as they are, and many are really fun. I suspect that the Facebook algorithm quickly figures out which kinds of tests appeal to each of us and promote those to the top and of course the hackers are using analytics to build quizzes that become most popular. While I am positive there are some quizzes out there that are innocent and certainly there are quizzes that are just consumer studies, I am officially sending out a warning to all my friends and anyone who reads my blog – JUST DON’T QUIZ!
Worthy of noting, I wanted to find an image of a quiz on my Facebook newsfeed to screensave as a featured image for this post, but I haven’t taken one in so long, they just don’t show up any more! I did keep searching though, I found my image.