It’s not just Facebook: Online quizzes also collect data about you

April 13, 2018

Luis Domingo/Mic

Luis Domingo/Mic

But if you thought Facebook is the only place where your data can be compromised, think again. Internet users are tracked all over the web.

These types of online personality quizzes aim to help us to understand ourselves and each other — and in turn get pretty addictive.

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More often than not, each question gives the site you’re on — and any companies it may share your answers with — valuable insight into who you are.

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It’s important to question if this quiz exists just to grab my personal data, likes and dislikes, in order to further target my information.

— Pam Dixon, executive director of World Policy Forum

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You might be thinking you have nothing to hide, so why should you care if anyone can see how you’re answering some quizzes?

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Recently, ProPublica reported Facebook allowed housing ads to exclude those categorized as African-Americans, Spanish-speakers and more.

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Very innocuous questions can lead to many decisions being made behind users’ backs. They may not be aware of what they’re missing out on.

— Max Kilger, University of Texas at San Antonio director of analytics

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If you’ve taken a Cambridge Analytica test, you not only allowed access to your Facebook profile data, but the data of all your friends as well.

Luis Domingo/Mic

Luis Domingo/Mic

Luis Domingo/Mic

Luis Domingo/Mic

Luis Domingo/Mic

Pottermore says it “may on occasion link or combine the information that we collect about you with information that we receive from other sources.”

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QuickSurveys “may share your personal information with any of our worldwide subsidiaries and affiliates and with carefully selected third parties.”

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Pollfish says it “collects, processes and analyzes data and provides its clients with statistical charts, data, info and tools/options for further analysis.”

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While Google says it doesn’t sell your data to outside advertisers, its Surveys platform has the ability to learn granular details about users who take surveys.

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What about BuzzFeed, which arguably popularized the modern online quiz craze? A spokesperson said quiz results aren’t attached to personal information.

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All quiz response data is anonymized. We don’t sell our quiz data to clients.

BuzzFeed spokesperson

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To protect yourself, Dan Barker, an e-commerce and analytics consultant, advised taking the quiz in incognito mode or a private window in your browser.

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There are lots of poor practices out there, which end users seem unaware of. ... Hopefully awareness will change in response to greater coverage of the issues.

— Dan Barker

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You can tell which quizzes might be problematic by checking the company’s privacy policy to see if the site sells your data.

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Companies will continue to hide in fine print just how much data they really collect. It’s up to users to be proactive in protecting their information.