Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Facebook Quizzes: I Told You So

28th August, 2009

I hate to say it, I really do. But when it comes to Facebook quizzes I really did tell you so - several (#268) times (#371). But now, finally, there is some proof behind my ranting madness on this particular topic.Recently I came upon a link to a Facebook quiz created by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (that’s their whole name) which was about your privacy on Facebook. Unusual topic, I thought, and even more unusual when I found out who they actually were. I was going to dismiss the quiz, until I read this opening paragraph (once I’d given it access to my profile, of course):

Ever take one of those Facebook quizzes to find out which superhero most resembles your dog, or have a friend who seems to spend most of their life doing so? Then you might be in for a surprise when you take this quiz and learn just how much of your personal information these quizzes can access.

After clicking through a few of the questions, it really was quite scary. During the course of the questions, it displays not only your information that is available only to your friends, but also private information from your friend’s profiles. This means that every time you take a quiz on Facebook, not only are you exposing your own information to people who may collect it to do what they will with, but also your friends’ information. It works the other way round too - when your friends take quizzes, your personal information is revealed too. (Note: the ACLU has a strict privacy policy)

So what to do from here? Well the quizzes can’t access information you don’t display to your friends, so turning up the strictness of the privacy settings is probably a good idea. Then persuading your friends not to keep giving away your personal information is also a pretty good bet. I think Facebook should also demand some level of privacy policy from the developers too, before they’re allowed access to your personal data.