You are precious and very valuable—especially to companies dealing in advertising and customer profiling. The value of you and your peers make giants like Google and Facebook tick, with a combined revenue of about $78 billion.
But how many of us are really making smart choices to guard our profiles? If you’re on Facebook, you may have seen posts like this: Who thinks you’re sweet? How many children will you have? Who should you write a love song for? Who of your friends belong in your stuffed animal collection?
On the surface it’s just another funny and harmless site that creates viral posts and cashes in on advertising. But let’s take a closer look at what happens: many of the tests involve your friends, and to give you a result they must know who your friends are. A perfectly legitimate dialog pops up asking for access to your Facebook account and friends list. Wait! Before you click “yes,” you should stop and think.
And on top of that, you pay with knowledge about all your friends too, but without asking them for permission. A good deal? Well, maybe and maybe not.
It’s obvious that these tests are more entertaining than scientific. But they’re all generated by websites, including one called nametests.com. This site is operated by a company named Socialsweethearts, who claim to have over 1500 tests in more than 40 languages. In the case of Socialsweethearts, it’s a German company, and Germany has strong privacy laws. As such, there’s a pretty good chance that this company isn’t misusing your data shamelessly, even if they have the technical opportunity to do so. But the fact that they probably won’t is just luck.
How to change permissions
The good news is, if you’ve taken Facebook quizzes, you can clean up the list of apps that have access to your data. In Facebook, go to Settings and choose Apps in the menu to the left. Now you see a list of all apps and sites that have been granted access.
Some of them are no doubt legit, for example apps you want to be able to post to your wall. But the permissions will stay on the list even when you stop using something—even if you believe it was a one-time thing. Nametests.com belongs to that category and should be erased. Go through the list and remove anything you don’t need. If you see something that you don’t understand the meaning of, it’s safest to remove it too. Permissions can always be added back and apps that lose their permissions will notify you and ask you to grant new permissions.
It’s a good idea to do this periodically to keep your profile to yourself…or avoid those Facebook quizzes altogether.
Share image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Missy Kellor, based on a blog by Micke from F-Secure
F-Secure: We write about our real-life experiences and try to give you helpful tips on security issues whether it be safe online shopping, ensuring that you don’t lose precious digital photos or making sure your kids don’t get exposed to inappropriate content. We are F-Secure, a company with over 20 years experience in Internet security and also a TDS partner. Visit F-Secure’s Safe & Savvy blog.