Probably since social networks really emerged to a larger audience, they have been a target for harvesting vast amounts of data from it. Depending on how bright people in your friendslist are, odds are that you’ve come across a quiz or two from friends telling you they are Batman or gonna die at age 82 because the quiz told so. Most of these quizzes share a common type and the results always get posted across the Facebook wall, so every friendly connection can read it. Types include:
There’s a difference between “How much do you know about social media marketing?” and “How much do you actually know about social media marketing?” Subtle, isn’t it? The mere addition of the word “actually” can instantly change a mundane question into a thought-provoking challenge, and no one wants to back down from a challenge!
Which are you?
One of the most popular forms, the audience is asked to discover if they are Batman, a Harry Potter character or which celebrity you they’ll smooch with. The bigger the names, the more chance people will gladly hand over their personal data for vague purposes.
This quiz prowls on the need of silly human beings to hear something positive about themselves. The personality quiz takes people and categorizes them in different personality types. Each personality is meant to compliment a person based on their answers. Audience are catagorized in various personalities that offer personalized product recommendations suited to their styles based off of their answers.
One of the most common types of quizzes on social media. The knowledge test essentially challenges how much someone knows about a given subject. Delivers results based on accuracy and can often let the participant know whether he/she got their answer right or wrong on the spot. Marketeers use this to assess their internal infrastructure, or to see how much their audience knows about their brands, products or area of focus.
These quizes are often accompanied by nice images (sometimes even subliminal) and are clearly designed to harvest data from you. So, what data is actually being harvested?
For example sake, let’s take a look at nametests.com. The site is actually operated by SocialSweethearts, a German-based company which claims to have 1500 tests in more than 40 languages. But what do they actually do and what is the business model here?
Many of the tests involve making use of your Facebook friends list. No big deal right? Right? Or is it? What’s the real deal:
You’re purchasing an automatically generated joke and pay SocialSweethearts by letting them access your friendslist, your Facebook wall and all your past, current and future posts. To top it off, you are also supplying knowledge about your friends, without asking them for permission.
But that’s alright, cause you got nothing to hide, right? A good thing about Socialhearts is they are a German company, which means they live by strict German privacy rules. So chance of abuse of your personal data is lower than an US-based company. Still, your data is being sold. What’s worse is that even your friends get profiled this way, without their consent. To get an idea, a reasonable complete profile is worth around 0.70 euro per person, which marketeers buy by the thousands in a what is a multi-billion dollar industry. Companies like SocialSweethearts amass data and sell it to marketeers and other companies, which can combine various data sources to enrich profiles, making them worth more for sale and specific product targeting.
So basically, you’re giving valuable information that is both yours and not yours for free, all by taking a silly test. To get an automatically generated response, to tell you you’re a nice human being or Batman or when you cease to live. In my opinion, you’ve already done the latter by spending time on the test. Stop doing tests, get out more and enjoy life! And don’t forget to remove nametests.com from your Facebook’s privacy options (Settings –> Apps in the menu to the left)!
Want to know how much your data is worth? Visit the personal data calculator of the Financial Times Personal Data calculator, they promise not to use any data from the calculator. Really 🙂 .