Suggestion: Stop taking those Facebook “quizzes” and “personality tests” and…

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Suggestion: Stop taking those Facebook “quizzes” and “personality tests” and using those cute “Most Used Words” apps! Those apps harvest far more of your data than you realize, and quite often (without even realizing it) you permit them to continue seeing all your posts long after you’ve forgotten the fun little app. And in some cases your friends’ data too. They often continue seeing everything you post, like, and do! ( See which apps can get to your data: https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications )

Facebook can be fun and entertaining, but it’s wise to be informed about what exactly you’re using, here. Did you know that your habits and “likes” can predict your behavior and opinions even better than your friends can predict of you? That just by seeing your activity and likes, a very accurate profile of you can be built – your age, sex, political preferences, religious beliefs, etc. And that firms like Cambridge Analytica used this data – captured through an app disguised as a fun little poll – explicitly to form these accurate personality profiles and target voters that could be influenced with propaganda? They even predicted which messages would resonate with which people, and which houses were most easily swayed. So they showed up in areas where it really mattered, with targeted messages per house, and knocked on their door – and these people had no idea that their Facebook activity was what led those people to them. I’ve seen their presentations and what they know about people. It’s ingenious, but scary stuff.

We are feeding a monster, here. Regardless of your political leaning or your thoughts on this incident, this matters. Our habits are enabling hidden groups of people to have an increasing influence in things we don’t even realize.

I don’t expect everyone to understand how all this works or why it’s concerning. I’ve been working with this for a long time, so I have a better understanding than most, though its deep complexities are still way beyond me. My suggestion to everyone is to be very skeptical of everything you do on social media, and treat sites like Facebook as the mean-spirited “friend” who could turn on you at any moment. Don’t give them anything you wouldn’t want used against you. And don’t think for a second that they care about you. You are a data point being bought and sold.

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1 Comment

  1. My use of “you” refers to the demonstrative use, not the individually targeted — my point was that for years I have been extremely polite to people about this, informative, provided links to additional information, and kept pointing out that the surveys are both bogus (they don’t actually show you which Disney princess you are) and ways for scammers to get to your data, as well as your friends’ data.

    I have provided easy instructions on how to lock down your private and friends’ data, how to edit what such surveys have access to, or how to be able to take these surveys, while not compromising your data or your friends (take a screenshot of the results, and post the screenshot, while not letting the app post), etc…

    These polite and informative commentaries and help messages were invariably greeted, to 90%, by either being ignored, or by being told “Oh, cheer up, these are fun”, or the always popular “these harm no one”.

    Sadly, the only times when my comments elicit a response is whenI get derisive, cynical, and (once the damage is done, and irreversible) display #schadenfreude or say “I told you so”.

    Instead of saying “Im not interested”, I would instead suggest that you and all those who feel the same way, brush cognitive dissonance aside and perform a bit of introspection about what got you here.

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