You’ve probably seen them before—those get-to-know-your-friends-better surveys that go around social media. They can be a fun way to get to know your acquaintances better while telling a little bit about yourself, too. But is it a good idea to participate?
Some of these surveys may have simply been created as an entertaining activity. Others, however, may be devised as a way to get personal information from you. For instance, take a look at the sample survey below. It’s similar to those already circulating on social media.
LET’S GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER!
Thought this quiz would be fun to do together. Copy the text and paste it in the comments section with your answers. I’m curious to see who knows how to drive a stick shift!
- What was your first car?
- What year did you graduate high school?
- What was the first foreign country you visited?
- Can you drive a stick shift?
- What is your zodiac sign?
- How many languages do you speak?
- What is your favorite vacation spot?
- How old are you?
- What is your mother’s maiden name?
- How many tattoos do you have?
- What was your 1st grade teacher’s name?
- Are you a dog person or a cat person?
- Do you have any kids?
Why It Matters
While some of these questions may seem harmless, others can lead you to provide valuable knowledge to scammers. What’s more, the answers you provide to the questions can be used in conjunction with information you’ve already made public on social media. This might include your workplace, marital status, family members, and the high school you graduated from, along with your favorite movies, TV series, and books. This information can not only provide clues to your passwords but also supply answers to online security questions. Many people use security questions asking them about their mothers’ maiden names, their favorite vacation spots, the names of favorite school teachers, the streets they grew up on, and more.
The same thing can happen when you take online quizzes for fun. These lighthearted quizzes might invite participants to find out which cartoon character they are. Another may promise to reveal which city you should live in. Some of these quizzes, however, may require that you hand over access to your social media account first. Others may ask questions similar to those in the sample survey above.
Now, keep in mind that if you see a friend share one of these quizzes or surveys on line, it does not mean they are trying to trick you into giving them information. The goal of the scammers who create suspicious posts such as these is to get them circulating throughout social media. Once one unsuspecting person participates, they will share it with their friends. Then, those friends will do the same. The scammers can track how their posts have been spreading and collect information from everyone who has participated.
A good rule of thumb is this: If you're asked to provide any specific information about yourself on a social media post or by someone you don’t know, do not provide it. What might appear to be a fun game could actually be backed by ulterior motives. Social media can be a wonderful tool to keep in touch with family and friends, coordinate events, or share news and ideas. Knowing what to watch out for can help you continue using it securely.