Online Quizzes are Personal Information Goldmines

Popular Online Quizzes are Goldmines for Personal Information

Most of us can’t help but hover our mouses over these viral quizzes that pop up on Facebook––you know the ones we’re talking about: quizzes that offer you elusive insight into “What city are you born to live in?” or “Who is your celebrity twin?,” “What Game of Thrones Character are you?,” or “What color is your soul?” (we just need to know!). Sure, I may have made that last one up, but I don’t doubt that it exists somewhere. Since the recent privacy implications over the popular pop culture joke generator, “This is Bob,” we thought we would do a little digging into a popular quiz website to keep you in the loop so that you know what poses a risk to your personal information while getting your online quiz on.

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Let’s look at why these quizzes are so appealing. Why do we want to know which Disney princess or sports car we would be in another life? It’s simple, really: validation. It is human nature to want some form of validation for one’s innermost desires about who they are and who they want to be? While we recognize that people don’t need a Facebook quiz to tell you about yourself, there’s nothing wrong, per se, with answering a few meaningless questions to confirm what we already know deep down. Like that you were born to live in NYC, or that you would be Robb Stark I mean Jon Snow I mean Jamie Lannister in Game of Thrones (he’s still alive, right?). These quizzes are entertaining, and maybe they get a ton of likes and shares, but are you willing to put your personal privacy in jeopardy to be told your spirit animal is a unicorn?

A few quizzes or information generators have gone exceptionally viral. One website, meaww.com, hosts a wide range of quizzes that collect data when you click them. Take a look at their privacy policy––it’s not difficult to see how much slack this policy gives the company in the use and storage of your information.

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This privacy policy states that just by using their services, you consent to them using your information for “any reason whatsoever.” Further, and what I found the most contradictory, is that meaww.com emphasises that the information it collects is “non-personally-identifying.” However, take a look at what pops up when I click the quiz “What Shot Are You?.”Graphic 4I’m not sure what information is considered “non-personally-identifying,” because apparently my public profile, friend list, email address, timeline posts, and photos do not fall under this category. I was not allowed to access this quiz unless I clicked “Okay.” You can, however, try and reign in some information collected, you can click the “Edit info your provide” link pictured above.

A general trend in these types of websites’ privacy policies is their clauses that state that they are allowed to change their privacy policy at any time. No notifications are sent out to update the users; therefore, the onus is on the users to constantly check the website if they want to be kept up to date on the policies. If users fail to check the privacy policy but still use the website, it is understood by the website to mean that the user consents to any and all privacy policy changes. Here arises another problem: most users take the clickbait just to complete the advertised quiz, forgetting and/or overlooking the information that they just granted the website rights to.

Because I realize you’re all dying to know, the results of my “What Shot Are You?” quiz are in! And yes, I went through with the quiz. You know, for science.

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How am I feeling after taking this quiz?  Immediately gratified by my results, because hell yeah, I am elegant and refined! I’m seeing why people love to complete these quizzes. However, it’s still crucial that I recognize the implications of this taking this quiz on my privacy. So excuse me while I go delete the Meaww World app from my “approved applications” on Facebook, because no matter how gratifying these silly quizzes are, I value my privacy more––and I think you should too.

About Krystina Lau

Krystina Lau

Krystina is a Legal Studies and Sociology graduate with a passion for advocacy in international contexts.

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