Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Beware the Facebook Quiz; {lsquo}Harmless' Fun Could Cost You Your Identity

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Beware the Facebook Quiz; {lsquo}Harmless' Fun Could Cost You Your Identity

Article excerpt

PRIVACY advocates have long warned that users of Facebook and other social networking sites who seek amusement from quizzes like "What Simpsons Character Are You?" might be mortified by the way creators of such applications can access and potentially "scrape" personal information - not just about the quiz-takers, but their friends as well.

Now the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California is employing a cautionary Facebook quiz of its own to illustrate how quizzes that may seem "perfectly harmless" can release an array of data into the wider world - including users'"religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, photos, events, notes, wall posts, and groups".

The aptly titled What Do Facebook Quizzes Know About You? delivers its answer by opening a window that scrolls biographical data, attributed comments and photos.

More than 8000 participants have taken the ACLU's quiz since it was quietly released in August. The group hopes to prompt Facebook to upgrade the privacy default settings for its users, now numbering more than 250 million.

One helpful upgrade, the civil liberties group said, would be for Facebook to "change default privacy settings so that quizzes and other third-party applications run by a user's friends do not have access to the information on a user's profile without the user's opt-in consent".

Facebook users considering such applications as quizzes typically see a page that provides a choice of "Allow" or "Cancel." The boilerplate language notes that allowing access "will let it pull your profile information, photos, your friends' info, and other content that it requires to work."

But many Facebook users ignore the warning or don't comprehend the potential risks, the ACLU said.

Facebook, which boasts of building its success on creating an online environment users trust, says it has been actively policing its service and has disabled hundreds of applications, including some quiz apps, found to be inconsistent with Facebook policies.

The company also pointed out that it recently simplified user privacy settings. The final question of the ACLU quiz enables users to visit the Facebook page where they can alter their settings. …

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