Quiz: What Do Facebook Quizzes Know About You?

(Originally posted on the ACLU of Northern California's Bytes & Pieces blog.)

Ever whiled away five minutes on a Facebook quiz, finding out what cartoon character is your look-alike or how your IQ stacks up? These quizzes may seem like a perfectly harmless way to spend a few spare minutes. But have you stopped to think about what these quizzes are learning about you and how that info could be used? Take our quiz and learn more!

QUESTION 1: When you take a Facebook quiz, the quiz:

A. Is just for fun and doesn’t collect any info about you.
B. Collects the info in your answers, but nothing else.
C. Collects the info in your answers, has access to your profile, and may even be able to access your friends’ profiles.


This isn’t a back-of-the-magazine quiz — Facebook quizzes can collect and store the answers you give. But that’s not all: these quizzes can collect the information in your profile — and even information from your friends’ profiles — in addition to any answers you give.

QUESTION 2: OK, that doesn’t sound good, but my privacy settings will protect my information, right? By default, Facebook’s privacy settings:

A. Prevent any application from seeing anything on my profile unless I install and use that application.
B. Prevent applications from seeing anything on my profile if I have specific privacy settings for specific details on my profile.
C. Allow applications — including those used by my friends — to access to my profile.


Facebook, no stranger to controversy over its policies regarding user data, does not have policies in place that reassure users that their information is automatically kept private. By default, Facebook’s privacy settings let applications access information on your profile even if you have restricted access to a specific network or friend group (as application privacy settings are separate from profile privacy settings). In addition, Facebook's default settings allow applications run by your friends to pull information from your profile. Surprised? Check out your settings and see for yourself!

QUESTION 3: OK, so quizzes can collect a lot of info — but what can they do with it? The information that quizzes collect:

A. Cannot be retained or used at all
B. Can only be used in connection with Facebook.
C. Could be used, sold, or released in any way the developer chooses.

ANSWER: B — sort of.

Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities requires that application developers limit their use of any user data that they collect. That’s nice - in theory. But in practice, it only works if quiz developers comply with this limit. If they don’t, your information could easily be abused, sold, or released without your knowledge or consent. How do you know if you can trust these developers?

QUESTION 4: No worries; Facebook screens developers carefully, right? To be a Facebook developer, a person or company must:

A. Pass a thorough screening by Facebook and provide Facebook with a real name, address, and telephone number.
B. Provide Facebook with a real name, address, and telephone number.
C. Have nothing more than a Facebook account possibly tied to an anonymous email address.


That’s right: these developers — who are able to collect all sorts of information about you and your friends — don’t have to reveal their information to you (or to Facebook) at all. That means it can be hard for Facebook to enforce these developer data use limits - or even to know if they've been violated in the first place.

QUESTION 5: All right, I’ve heard enough — I want to do something about it! The best way for me to take action is to:

A. Use Facebook’s privacy settings to limit the information that my friends’ quizzes and applications can see on your profile.
B. Demand that Facebook strengthen its privacy protections so that users can effectively retain control over their own information.
C. Join the dotRights campaign on Facebook to learn more about how I can take control of my online info and Demand My dotRights!


Taking control of your own privacy by using the privacy settings that Facebook offers is a good start — but it’s time to start demanding more of the companies who hold our personal information. Tell Facebook that you want better privacy protection for your personal information. Sign up for our email list and join our dotRights campaign on Facebook to learn more about what you can do to control your privacy online. And stick around as we expand our campaign to reclaim control of our personal information and Demand Our dotRights!

View comments (19)
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Old Bogus

The correct answer to #5 is "none of the above"; get off of Facebook, is the correct answer.


Actually I have never been on face book, you tube, twitter and what ever else is out there. This ACLU blog is my first time to blog. I have told my family (children & grandchildren)that they should not put pictures, information on the internet. However, why would they listen to me.

I can not believe that people actually do this. With all the nuts out there you would think they would know better.


Agreed! Here’s the next Quiz post I expect to see from the yo-yos who clutter my Facebook page touting themselves with results from these meaningless quizzes (it’s kind of like how people claiming to be reincarnated are always royalty…)


You have Narcissistic Personality Disorder as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, IV edition

Defined as a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, you fit five (or more) of the following characteristics:

(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

(3) believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

(4) requires excessive admiration

(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes”


MizRE - you've basically described half the population under the age of twenty. And actors and artists. Pretty much all of them.

Seriously, Facebook is nothing but a tool with which to keep in touch with friends. It's a little like group emailing without it clogging up your work account.

I don't know anyone who doesn't have their accounts totally locked down in terms of who has access to their info, and few people who have more than their names, more often than not nicknames rather than full names, on their profiles. I can't actually say I've ever answered any of those app. quizzes in all the years I've had an account.

But maybe I'm just cautious.


Might as well start configuring those Facebook privacy settings. I found an excellent guide


I know better than to post anything sensitive on facebook. It's a public conversation, treat it as such. Actually a recorded public conversation.


MizRE - You just described 99.9% of the people in the Virginia/DC/Maryland area.


Well, it's a double edged sword, if you wish to enjoy the entertainment value of seeing your friends and peers in comprimising situations then Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere are there to meet your silly voyeristic and somewat creepy needs. Otherwise, the only way to avoid blatent violations of your privacy is to a) Not have e-mail b) don't use credit cards c) Don't use sites with "User profiles" d) don't use search engnines and e)

all of the above.

The reality of the web is simple, it's going to cost somone money somewhere, your information is all that you may offer in return you get to have instantatnous access to information on everything. If you don't want your privacy violated, you should consider living under a rock.

Curtis Cooley

MizRE, what's it called when you think everyone is out to get you?


Anyone on FB who doesn't know the deal on sharing info when they sign on gets no sympathy from me. The internet is no less safe a place regarding lack of privacy than is the brick-and-mortar world. It's a new medium of communication, with several unique twists that must be given their due diligence. Get online, discover the wonders of instant information and communication and have fun!! Just use common sense, mm-kay?


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