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.

Can I Interest You in a Thursday Rundown?

In one week from today it will be September. Crazy, huh? Here comes your final Thursday Rundown of the month.

End of a Mini Mascot – One of the very first things I did in my professional career while working in the athletic department at the University of Montana was introduce a mini mascot. Sounds creepy, right? Don’t be so quick to judge! Fresh off of graduating from college in 2009, I worked with the mom of a talented boy to create Mo, a miniature version of the University of Montana mascot, Monte. It was borderline magical the day we surprised a wild Washington-Grizzly Stadium sold out crowd with the newest addition to our mascot family. Well, after a great seven year run, Mo will no longer grace the sidelines…at least for now. I want to thank the two kids who wore the costume and represented Grizzly Athletics so well.

I enjoyed helping to develop Mo (right) when I was at the University of Montana.

I enjoyed helping to develop Mo (right) when I was at the University of Montana.

War Dogs – It had been a couple months since I saw a really good movie. However, the bad streak ended last week when Sidney and I went to the theater to watch “War Dogs.” Finally, a movie that lived up to the hype I set for it! The true story was portrayed in an intriguing way and the acting of Jonah Hill was out of control (in a good way of course). Bradley Cooper played a darker role that you don’t always get to see him in. The film also delivered plenty of laughs as well as a recent history lesson. I totally recommend “War Dogs.”

In Front of the Camera – Classes started for Coastal Carolina University this week and it has been a very exciting time. Luckily for me, I was able to share some of my enthusiasm with WPDE (ABC 15) on Monday. The station called wondering if I would do an interview addressing our social media momentum. Thankfully they didn’t have me talk that much. To watch Sydney Glenn’s story, click here.

A screenshot from my interview with WPDE's Sydney Glenn on Monday.

A screenshot from my interview with WPDE’s Sydney Glenn on Monday.

Final Thoughts on Summer Olympics – The Rio Games concluded on Sunday and I must admit that I didn’t watch much of the closing ceremonies. I just find it sad. I love the Summer Olympics and to see them end after four years of anticipation is hard. I feel bad in my heart for all the athletes who worked so hard for their moment in Rio only for it now to be over. On a lighter note, I really enjoyed watching America dominate the games. What I didn’t enjoy was the Ryan Lochte saga. It really took A LOT away from the games and unfortunately it will forever be a defining part of the 2016 Summer Olympics. But I try to look at the positives and I can say that there was nothing better than watching the games with my wife in the evenings.

From the Archives – So, would you like to read about me defending a social media user, reviewing a Darius Rucker concert, or evaluating Instagram Video? On this date in 2015 I came to the side of a typical American who was condemned for giving the play-by-play over Twitter of a breakup on a plane. In 2014 I shared my thoughts on the Darius Rucker concert I attended that weekend. Finally, in 2013 I reviewed Instagram Video about two months after it launched. Pick your poison.

Me with my Darius Rucker shirt after his concert in 2014.

Me with my Darius Rucker shirt after his concert in 2014.


Thank you to my readers for taking the time to read Don’t Blink. Hopefully soon I will be introducing another reader appreciation opportunity for all of you. Enjoy the rest of August. Don’t Blink.

We Didn’t Start the Fire

Last night I sat down to watch the 11 p.m. Myrtle Beach local news. Leading the newscast off was a national story far away from the southeastern coast. WPDE Anchor Alex Heaton threw the newscast to a taped piece on the ravaging wildfires in Washington state. As I have mentioned before, if national coverage on the area I grew up in doesn’t have to do with our sports teams, it usually isn’t good news. Of course this again was the case.

I watched the local Myrtle Beach WPDE broadcast last night as anchorwoman Alex Heaton talked about the Washington state wildfires.

I watched the local Myrtle Beach WPDE broadcast last night as anchorwoman Alex Heaton talked about the Washington state wildfires.

I didn’t need the report from the Myrtle Beach station roughly 3,000 miles away from the state of Washington to bring me up to speed on the severity of the situation, however. I follow enough Pacific Northwest twitter accounts and read a couple of online versions of Washington newspapers to know that the wildfires have skyrocketed out of control. But neither social media nor the web has explained to me the carnage as adequately as another source.

My family.

Every time I have talked with my mom or other members of my immediate family over the past couple weeks all they can talk about at first is how smoky it is. Growing up in Washington state and then living in Montana I have experienced extremely smoky summers. However, my family tells me this year it is at a completely different level.

In this text message between my mom and I, she said that it is so smoky in her neck of the woods that she has to wear a mask when taking a walk.

In this text message between my mom and I, she said that it is so smoky in her neck of the woods that she has to wear a mask when taking a walk.

When the smoke is so bad you have to wear a mask you know you are living in a place that was rightfully declared in a state of emergency. Well, either that or you look at a map like the one below to see how prevalent this problem really is.

The whole state of Washington is either at high (yellow) or very high/extreme (red) fire danger.

The whole state of Washington is either at high (yellow) or very high/extreme (red) fire danger.

Living in a smoky area is a different type of feeling. It immediately puts you in a haze. Everything all of a sudden is viewed through a grayish-orange tint. Yes, everywhere you walk outside smells like a giant campfire but that gets old after a while. You quickly realize that the smell is not coming from a campfire where people are telling stories and roasting marshmallows. Rather, it sets in that the smell is the byproduct of destruction and danger.

People have lost their lives and countless houses have burned. My family couldn’t be safer but they do have to deal with the nasty air. I pray for milder temperatures, safety for the firefighters, and some heavy rain. I know we live in a world with greater tragedies than this but it wouldn’t hurt to take a second and think about the state of Washington. Don’t Blink.

I Am an Online Dating Expert and a Published Writer!

Hello Thursday, it is great to see you again! I am all around the board today with my Thursday Rundown as I cover online dating, work, football, and the movies. Let’s get started ASAP.

The New Way to Date – So apparently I am an online dating expert! We get calls from the media every single day asking us to put them in contact with our faculty members who specialize in certain areas. This past Friday we fielded a call from news station WPDE regarding a story they were doing on the safety of online dating. Because the subject revolves very heavily on social media, I was assigned to give the interview. Reporter April Baker came over to the office and interviewed me. I talk to the media a lot but usually it is in relation to something I am doing at the University. This time around I was straight up giving my expertise! I had a fun time doing the interview and April did a fabulous job. Watch the report by clicking here.

A screenshot from my online dating interview with WPDE.

A screenshot from my online dating interview with WPDE.

Published Writer – I love to write and I do it a lot through this blog and other outlets but never before has my work been published in a legitimate, hard copy publication. That recently changed. I was humbled to have the opportunity to write a profile piece for the latest issue of Coastal Carolina University Magazine. Our twice-a-year alumni publication, this magazine is beautiful and glossy with a large readership. I wrote a piece on Patrick Sparks, an important alumnus of CCU. I put a lot of effort into the piece but after three months since submitting it to the editor, I kind of forgot about it . However, I was reminded of it in grand fashion today when I held a copy of the magazine in my own hands. I had a small moment of pride when I saw my own story on that page with my name on it. To have opportunities such as this is a big reason on why I came to Coastal.

The main photo on the right is my article in the magazine. The top photo is the cover, the middle photo is my social media ad in the publication, and the bottom photo is the magazine logo on the inside cover.

The main photo on the right is my article in the magazine. The top photo is the cover, the middle photo is my social media ad in the publication, and the bottom photo is the magazine logo on the inside cover.

American Sniper – For a long time now I have looked forward to watching “American Sniper.” After months of buildup, award hype, and countless previews on television, I am pumped up for the nationwide release tomorrow. I am just so intrigued by the role Bradley Cooper plays. As a fan of his, I am chomping at the bit to watch him take on this character. It is something completely different from anything he has ever done. I will see it at the theater for sure this weekend and I will make sure to let you know how it was.

Championship Sunday – This Sunday the NFL conference championship games will be played. It goes without saying that I will be cheering heavily for the Seahawks to dispose of the Packers in the earlier NFC contest. To see my favorite team get back to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row would be very fulfilling. As for the AFC nightcap, I will be clearly cheering for a certain team as well. I hope the Indianapolis Colts kick the snot out of the New England Patriots. I enjoy Andrew Luck and despise Brady and Belichick so I am crossing my fingers for a Seahawks-Colts Super Bowl. Nothing is better than watching the NFL on Sunday when you have the sweet assurance that you don’t have to work the next day.

Social Media Promotion of the Week – As a fun little social media promotion to start the semester off, I implemented something that I thought of while working out last week. I had Jada, my social media intern, go to Kimbel Library and randomly choose five books from all corners of the facility. She took photos of the books and put a note on the inside cover stating what to do with it when found. Starting on Monday I posted a photo of one of the books on our social media outlets challenging our students to find it, check it out, and then bring it to our office for a prize pack. I repeated this routine with different books on Tuesday, Wednesday, and today. Four days in and we have had a winner each day. Two of the times we had a group of students come in with the winning book. Jada did a great job choosing the selections as she picked books that somehow related to the University and/or the college experience. This promotion will wrap up tomorrow.

These are the four student winners who checked out the hidden books the past several days.

These are the four student winners who checked out the hidden books the past several days.


Did you know that January is already halfway over? How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? If you have already fallen off, don’t give up. Hop back on and make good on your goals. The year is still very young. Have a wonderful holiday weekend and enjoy the football games! Don’t Blink.