Scam Alert: That Facebook Quiz Might Be a Big Data Company Mining Your Personal Information

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In light of the recent revelation that Cambridge Analytica allegedly mined personal information from more than 50 million Facebook users, the Better Business Bureau is again reminding consumers that what they share online can be used for illegal or unethical reasons.

In light of the recent revelation that Cambridge Analytica allegedly mined personal information from more than 50 million Facebook users, the Better Business Bureau is again reminding consumers that what they share online can be used for illegal or unethical reasons.

Social media quizzes – especially popular on Facebook – seem innocent enough. But taking the quiz might mean you are giving away more about yourself than you originally thought, and may extend to your Friends, as well.

These quizzes ask seemingly silly or useless questions, but hackers can use that information to penetrate your social accounts and gain access to your personal information or the information of your friends and family.

Some quizzes are designed to steal your data in an outright scam. According to Khristian Ibarrola, of Inquirer.net “Once answered, hackers can easily hijack personal accounts and use them to lure in more victims.” The hackers will include links embedded in the quiz that can cause a security breach of your personal accounts.

But the latest news shows that it isn’t just scammers who are interested in your quiz answers. It turns out, your personal information is big business.

“We always knew someone was trying to trick us with social media quizzes, because they are free” says BBB’s chief security officer Bill Fanelli, CISSP. “If there is no charge, then the value is the data they can collect. We also knew that it was for a use we probably would not like, because they went to such great lengths to hide their purpose. Now we know we were right on both counts.”

Not all social media quizzes are about unprincipled data collection, but BBB cautions users to be careful about what they share online. Profile data, quiz answers, and more can be used to used to steal your money, or let a scammer pretend to be you in order to steal someone else’s money. And now we know that seemingly innocent information can even be used to build a profile on you that can be sold to anyone trying to influence society.

Tips to avoid social media scams:

  • Be skeptical: Before you take a quiz, figure out who created it. Is it a brand you trust?
  • Adjust privacy settings: Review your social media account’s privacy settings and be strict about what information you share.
  • Remove personal details from your profile: Don’t share information like your phone number or home address on social media accounts.
  • Don't accept friend requests from people you don’t know.

For more information:

You can find more about BBB and the cyber security resources available to both businesses and consumers at BBB.org/cybersecurity.

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (BBB.org/scamtracker). To protect yourself from all kinds of scams, visit the BBB Scam Tips page (BBB.org/scamtips).

Stay up on the latest scams by subscribing to BBB Scam Alerts emails.

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MEDIA CONTACTS: For more information, journalists for national media outlets should contact Katherine Hutt (212-705-0131) or khutt(at)council.bbb(dot)org. Journalists for local media outlets should contact their regional spokesperson (bbb.org/bbb-locator).

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.

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Katherine Hutt
Council of Better Business Bureaus
+1 (703) 247-9345
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