It all feels so harmless. Who isn’t even alittle curious which celebrity is their look-a-like or what ’80s song best matches their personality? While some of these fun little quizzes and facial recognition-type games that pop up on social media are advertiser-generated and harmless, others have been carefully designed to steal your data.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) consumers need to beware with the IQ tests, quizzes that require you to trade information. Depending on the goal of the scam, one click could result in a new slew of email or text spam, malicious data mining, or even a monthly charge on your phone bill.
Besides the spammy quizzes, scammers also use click bait, that are headlines designed to get your click and your data. Such headlines often promise juicy info on celebrities and may even legitimate human interest stories that claim, “and you won’t believe what happened next.” While some of those headlines are authored by reputable companies simply trying to sell products and compete for clicks, others are data traps that chip away at your privacy.
The best defense against click bait is knowledge. Similar to the plague of fake news circulating online, click bait is getting more sophisticated and deceptive in appearance, which means that users must be even more sophisticated in understanding how to sidestep these digital traps.
5 Tips to Help You Tame Your Clicks
- Just say no, help others do the same. Scammers understand human digital behavior and design quizzes they know will get a lot of shares. “Fun” and “wow!” easily goes viral. Refuse to pass on the information and when you see it, call it out like blogger David Neilsen did (right). A scammers goal is access to your data and access to your social pages, which gives them access to your friend’s data. If you want to find out which Harry Potter character you are most like, just know you will pay with your privacy — so just practice saying no.
- Vet your friends. Gone are the days of hundreds of thousands of “friends and followers” to affirm our social worth. With every unknown friend you let into your digital circle, you increase your chances of losing more privacy. Why take the risk? Also, take a closer look at who is sharing a contest, quiz, or game. A known friend may have been hacked. Go through their feed to see if there’s anything askew with the account.
- Beware of click jacking. This malicious technique tricks a web user into clicking on something different from what the user perceives they are clicking on, which could result in revealing confidential information or a scammer taking control of their computer.
- Be aware of ‘Like Farming’ scams. Quizzes can be part of a scam called “Like Farming.” In this scenario, scammers create a piece of legitimate content, then swap it out for something else less desirable once the post has gone viral.
- Adjust your settings. Since these quizzes mainly show up on Facebook, start adjusting your settings there. You will be prompted from your Settings to select/deselect the level of permissions that exist. This is one easy way to stop the madness. Another way is to go to the actual post/quiz and click on the downward facing arrow to the top right of the post. Tell Facebook to block these types of ads or posts, or if you are sure it’s a scam, report the post.
- Value your online time. Click bait is an epic waste of time. When a headline or quiz teases users to click without giving much information about will follow, those posts get a lot more clicks, which moves them up the Facebook food chain. Keep in mind click bait is a trap that A) tricks you B) wastes valuable time and C) edges out content from your friends and Facebook pages that you actually want to see.
Our digital landscape is peppered with fake news and click bait, which makes it difficult to build trust with individuals and brands who have legitimate messages and products to share. As you become savvy to the kinds of data scams, your discernment and ability to hold onto your clicks will become second nature. Continue to have fun, learn, connect, but guard your heart with every click. Be sure to keep yor devices protected while you do!
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