What are the 5 questions to ask yourself before answering this online quiz?

Who hasn’t taken an online quiz to find out which TV character you’re most like, which city you should live in, or which song from the 90s represents you the most? These quizzes seem innocent enough. You put in the name of your best friend from high school, you select the type of pet you had growing up, and your favorite food. Just fun, right? Well, it really depends on where that quiz is and what happens with the information.

The quizzes themselves aren’t bad, but the data practices of the hosting platform or site can be bad. Advertisers can use quizzes as a covert way to collect detailed information about the people they reach. This is valuable information that can be sold to other advertisers, agencies, and businesses, allowing even more targeted advertisements to follow you across the Internet. And it came out reporting on the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal that the data company had collected personal information of up to 87 million people through quizzes downloaded from the “thisisyourdigitallife” app.

It’s quite tempting to say “Don’t take a quiz” and leave it at that. But very rarely do proclamations limiting people’s behavior, online or otherwise, work. This is one of the reasons we decided to return to paid ads on Facebook and Instagram last summer. We realized that to maintain Mozilla’s mission of empowering people to protect themselves online, we need to be where the people are – and 1 in 3 people in the world have a Facebook account. Along the same lines, we can’t ignore the popularity of online quizzes – a Buzzfeed quiz got 18 million views in less than a year.

For a recent campaign, we knew we wanted to include a quiz as added value for nostalgia, self-expression and entertainment. We’re Mozilla – our work is about internet safety, but we’ve answered online questionnaires. We kept coming back to the fact that quizzes can be fun…if you know what’s going on with your data. We had to do it “the Mozilla way”, being very transparent about it. When we started advertising again on Instagram and Facebook last year, we did so by disclosing targeting parameters. Regarding the quiz we created for our campaign, you can rest assured that we do not record or store any of your responses. It’s a bit of HTML, CSS and JavaScript that we put together to create a fun experience. No collection of user responses is required. Feel free to check out the code we used to build this here.

On the contrary, the quiz gave us an additional opportunity to have this conversation about online safety. So what should you consider when someone sends you an online quiz?

That he has done? Before you even think about taking a quiz, find out who did the quiz and what their data policies are. What information do they collect about you, and perhaps more importantly, what information do they sell?

What are your privacy settings? If a quiz pops up on social media or anywhere else you have an account, take a look at your privacy settings and figure out what you chose (or what you automatically chose).

When else do you use this information? Never enter personal information that can be used to access your passwords, identity or important accounts like bank accounts, even if the quiz or game is really fun. Is the information requested in the quiz also used in any of your passwords? Do not complete this quiz. Is the name of your first pet part of your security questions? Do not answer a quiz question by asking this.

Why is this company doing this quiz? After studying the policies above, ask yourself what was the reason for this quiz? If the “What’s your sleeping style” quiz is from a mattress company, it’s pretty clear that they’re either trying to sell you something or getting your data to try to sell things later.

And, if like most people, you’ve already taken a quiz, now’s a good time to ask yourself another question:

Where have I completed quizzes before? This is a great time to get ahead of your digital spring cleaning and browse old or even old social profiles and online accounts where you may have shared data before. Delete these accounts, update your privacy settings to the strictest level you are comfortable with, and/or change your passwords.

The Bottom Line: While we all indulge in mindless internet distractions like a quiz from time to time, we can’t be indifferent to where we enter our information.

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