The Attraction and Danger of Facebook Quizzes

Given the current state of Facebook, it is safe to say we are subjected to a substantial amount of garbage each time we “go for a little scroll.” Political rants, fake news, multi-level marketing, annoying blog links (haha), and GoFundMe scams are just a few examples of awful content we sift through.

If not for all that I just mentioned above, perhaps online quizzes would be Public Enemy No. 1 when it comes to undesirable Facebook content. However, because of the proliferation of partisan venom, untrue headlines, and shameless sales pitches on our newsfeeds, spotting a quiz that promises to identify your spirit animal is almost a welcome relief. However, take it from me, Facebook quizzes are sometimes more trouble than what they are worth.

I recently sat down with WPDE ABC15 anchor Summer Dashe to discuss the dark side of social media quizzes. Summer used our discussion along with other interviews to put together an extremely well-done and creative package. It aired during the station’s big post-Academy Awards Sunday night newscast. Click here to view the story.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Summer Dashe with WPDE ABC15 to discuss Facebook quizzes.

During the interview, the major point I told Summer was that some social media quizzes are absolutely harmless – but others aren’t.

I mean come on, how bad can a quiz be that tells you which season of “Family Matters” opening credits you are?

Most of the time, at the very least, the makers of these Facebook-based personality tests are going to capture your profile information and potentially sell it to third parties so they can target you in ads. It is simply the day and age we live in. The current advertising climate places a very high premium on digital advertising and companies are willing to shell out money for lists of people who fit within their target audience. If you don’t mind the phenomenon of having a digital ad served to you that seems to read your mind, you don’t need to stress too much about this.

However, unfortunately, sometimes these seemingly harmless Facebook quizzes are a little more sinister. Some exist solely to hijack your information and make duplicate social media profiles of yourself. Selling “likes” and “followers” is a big business. Companies who specialize in this trade will provide their clients with a load of FAKE and duplicated profiles, created off of the information you consented to release before taking the quiz. Even more shocking, some quiz makers will take the information you provide entirely off the digital sphere and use it for classic identity theft purposes in the physical world.

Thank you to Summer Dashe of WPDE ABC15 for producing an educational and creative story.

Finally, some sketchy social media quiz makers will practice what is called like-farming. Think of it as a bait-and-switch – a Facebook quiz claiming to tell you what Disney princess you are appears on your newsfeed. All you have to do is click on the link to start the assessment. Much to your horror, instead of taking you to a multiple choice quiz, you are taken to a website that infects your computer with malware. The link originally started out as a legitimate quiz that garnered a lot of likes and shares. After it established credibility, the scoundrels behind the quiz edited the post and changed the link. Watch out for this dirty trick! 

I gave two big recommendations to Summer:

1. Don’t participate in Facebook quizzes that ask to access your Facebook profile or ask you to log in to Facebook. Consenting to these requests, which is usually as easy as clicking on a blue bar, will sell out your information to the entity administering the quiz.

Even though it might look official, don’t click on blue bars that ask you to login to take a quiz.

2. If you have an appetite for knowing what “Saved by the Bell” character you are or what ice cream flavor best describes your personality, take a Buzzfeed quiz. Not only is Buzzfeed the most popular option for online quizzes, it is also the safest. Buzzfeed won’t ask for any of your information before taking the quiz but will give you a safe option to post your results to Facebook at the conclusion of it.

In the most general terms, use common sense. Before clicking on a social media quiz, scrutinize it for a couple seconds. Blue bars, long URLs, misspellings, and obscure graphics are all signs to accept an F on the quiz by just not taking it.

Thanks again to Summer and WPDE for the effort they put forth to produce such a well-researched story. An important message was delivered to the Myrtle Beach area, one that everyone else in the country could benefit from. Don’t Blink.

Ordinary Middle of Month Thursday Rundown

Must say I didn’t mind the 75 degree weather we had today in Myrtle Beach. My parents and siblings, on the other hand, are enduring a big snow storm in Spokane. So, if you are in South Carolina go ahead and cool off with my latest Thursday Rundown but if you are in Washington state feel free to warm up with it (that probably didn’t make sense at all). Here we go…

Valentine’s Day Recap – Yesterday, Sid and I repeated our Valentine’s Day tradition we started in 2017 with one minor wrinkle – we let a little person join us! Sloan participated in our card exchange early Wednesday morning. Although she didn’t have a card to give, we still gave her one (and a couple toys). Our little girl also started her own mini Lenten journey when she participated in Ash Wednesday by receiving ashes. The combination of her Valentine’s Day outfit and the dusting of ash on her forehead made for a very special photo.

Note: Last night on social media, I posted the link to my 2013 Lenten blog post instead of the one I wrote yesterday evening. Sorry for the error. You can read my 2018 Lenten blog post by clicking here.

Sloan looked great sporting her Valentine’s Day outfit and ashes.

Instagram Safety – Although it wasn’t the reason why I wanted to be on the news, I did give a couple interviews this week to local stations about protecting yourself on Instagram. Recently, a fake Instagram account tried to scam some of our students. True to the intelligence of our students at CCU, most didn’t fall for it. I spoke with WPDE and WMBF about the incident and gave advice on how to spot a fraud. Thanks to Summer Dashe and Amy Kawata for their stories.

I was on the news earlier this week discussing Instagram safety.

Reunited With A Winner – Last Friday, the Coastal softball team opened up the 2018 season by hosting Iowa State. The significance of this? The Cyclones are led by Jamie Pinkerton, the man who was hired at the University of Montana to start its softball program. Coach Pinkerton joined the Griz athletic department about seven months before I left for CCU. During that short time period I got to know Jamie and really respected how he went about beginning a program from scratch and also by how he treated me. It was no surprise that he had tremendous success at Montana and was quickly hired as the head coach at Iowa State. At the end of last week, I got to see Coach Pinkerton win his debut with the Cyclones and I also had the pleasure of catching up with him. The guy is a pure winner.

I was reunited with Jamie Pinkerton this past Friday.

Winter Olympics Review – As many of you know, I was lacking enthusiasm for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Probably because I set the bar so low, I now find myself kind of enjoying the games. Over the past week, I have watched the early morning coverage while working out at the gym and then Sid and I have fallen asleep watching the primetime coverage. Although still nowhere close to the Summer Olympics in terms of entertainment and prestige, I am blown away by the talent and fearlessness of some of these athletes.

Sloan at 48 Weeks – Sloan is wrapping up her second consecutive healthy week. She babbles non-stop and is a handful to keep tabs on, even if she is still just crawling. Her hair is really coming in and it is starting to resemble that of a little girl. She is extremely sweet in the mornings and a “little monster” (our term of endearment for her) around 7 – 9 p.m. She is starting to pull herself up and she is having a great time experimenting with real people food. On Saturday she will be 11 months!!

Here is Sloan’s 48 week collage.


To all those people who hate Valentine’s Day, take solace that it is now over and the weekend is right around the corner. Thanks for reading! Don’t Blink.