Safety Net Senior Network Engineer Jeff Mertz was recently interviewed by Traverse City NBC affiliate TV 7&4 on the question of whether social media quizzes are innocent enough to fill in. We know you’re dying to identify your inner-Disney Princess or figure out which dog breed is best for you based on five simple questions. We suggest you give this a look, first!
Every day millions of people take surveys and quizzes on social media.
They may seem harmless, but tech experts say you might be surprised what these surveys are really after.
“They can provide personal information used to hack into your financial accounts, personal accounts, email,” said Jeff Mertz, a senior security engineer at Safety Net, a provider of IT solutions and security headquartered in Traverse City.
“One of the most nefarious survey types that Facebook has is the ’20 questions about me you never knew’ or ’15 questions about my childhood’ or ‘answer these 10 or 15 questions if you’re really my friend,'” Mertz said. He warns that many of these questions are commonly used by banks and other institutions as login and password recovery questions.
“A lot of people just friend whoever friends them, and then you can scroll through the account and realize, ‘Oh here are the 20 questions that are your password reset questions,'” Mertz said.
Even if you only accept requests from people you know, Mertz says spoofing friend requests is pretty common.
Surveys aren’t the only things that can pose a threat. In 2016, the Better Business Bureau issued a warning to social media users about IQ tests on social media. One in particular asks you for your cell phone number before you can obtain your results. Pretty soon, people were getting junk texts and a monthly charge of $9.99 on the cell phone bills.
Mertz says quizzes on sites like Buzzfeed or Distractify are fairly safe, but they do collect information about your location and preferences that they can sell to ad companies.
“Like ‘What Disney Princess Are You?’ ‘What Hogwarts House Do You Belong In?'” Mertz said. “It attached to your Facebook account and they use that information to serve you more stuff that you’ll click on.”
If you’ve ever taken on online quiz, experts say right now your information could exist on a database that has your name, your address and all of your shopping habits. The more quizzes you take, the more third parties know about you.
Experts say only take quizzes from websites you recognize, be sure to read the fine print, and if you’re posting your results to Facebook, be sure to check how much access you’re giving the website.