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Dec 2016

Giving the game away

In the post-Christmas lull, taking part in many of those Facebook quizzes and sharing the results can be a bit of fun, but do you know what’s really going on behind the scenes? TRL’s Head of Security, Paula Marshall, has the answers.

Facebook is full of quizzes and games that ‘reveal’ your personality type, who your best friend is or which Christmas character you are.

Most of the quizzes usually ask us to click a button to accept their privacy terms and conditions. But often this means giving the app developers access to, not just your own data, but also that of all the friends you’re connected to on Facebook.

We often see the quizzes on our timelines because a friend has taken part and shared the results, and that naturally makes us feel more comfortable about doing the same. And after all, how can the quiz give us an accurate result if we don’t share at least some of our information?

The extent to which some of the games are hoovering up your information can be alarming, by taking part you are likely telling the developers:

  • Your name, gender, age and birthday
  • Who your friends are
  • Where you live, went to school and work
  • Teams, clubs and societies you are a member of or pages you have liked.

Not forgetting giving them access to your photos plus any photos you have been tagged in.

It may be that the game developers have good intentions and don’t plan to store your data or pass it on to third parties, but there are certainly those out there looking to exploit your information.

Your data could be sold on to numerous third parties who sell it on again and again. Companies buying this information now have huge amounts of data about us and can start targeting us with advertising or, even worse, sell it on to hackers who, having gathered such a lot of information, can start individually targeting you with more sophisticated techniques.

What you can do

  1. Be aware that fraudsters will dig through Facebook and other social networking sites looking for information about you. Creating quizzes which spread rapidly across Facebook is one of the simplest methods they have to collect data
  2. Adjust your Facebook privacy settings to project yourself. Check your privacy settings and deselect anything you don’t want shared without your permission. Also remove any apps in Facebook you’ve already installed.
  3. Choose your Facebook friends wisely. Some people like to have hundreds if not thousands of Facebook friends - many of whom are friends of friends instead of people they actually know. Anyone you accept as a Facebook friend will be able to view your profile and postings unless you say otherwise.
  4. Unless you really want your Facebook page to be set to ‘Public’ change it to ‘Friends’ only.
  5. If someone in your family gets a new phone or tablet under the tree this Christmas, keep an eye out and make sure they stay safe online.

About L-3 TRL

With 30 years of experience at the forefront of technological development, L-3 TRL is an official supplier to Her Majesty’s Government. Our cutting-edge, best-of-British technology is accredited and approved by NCSC, and we have achieved two Queen’s Awards for innovation.

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