| Reading Time 3 minute

You may not know how something so innocuous can hurt your online security. We’ve all seen them. The cutesy social media quizzes that people have shared. You may learn something new about a new friend or be reminded of something about an old friend. They bring a smile to your face. What you may not know, is when you sign up for the quiz you are giving up a ton of personal information. If you “Sign up with Facebook” or “Sign in with Facebook” the quiz maker generally gets access to your entire profile, groups, friends, likes, clicks, shares, and timeline. If the quiz asks you to upload a photo from your device they’ll also gain access to all the photos on your device, possibly all the contacts on your device, all the apps on your device, all the text messages on your device, all the call records (incoming and outgoing) on your device and more. Scary right?

What will they do with this information? Most often they’ll sell it to a research and or marketing firm or many, many research and marketing firms. Haven’t you wondered how a new set of advertisements got into your feeds? Or maybe it’s a marketing firm that is the quiz maker. It might save them money to have in-house quiz makers to create new question to elicit different data to round out their profile of you.

It can seem overwhelming to try to secure your online life. How can you balance sharing with your personal security? It’s all about understanding and managing your risks. Simply having a social media account, public or private increases your risk of being targeted. You may be targeted by an ad campaign (think Cambridge Analytica) or you may be a target of catfishing. I’ve been targeted by ad campaigns and catfishers.

What can you do?

  1. Don’t take quizzes (unless you are getting paid real money to take them).
  2. Don’t reuse passwords.
  3. Don’t use a fingerprint to login to your devices.
  4. Don’t use a photo to login to your devices.
  5. Don’t wish your child a happy birthday online! Bots are continually scraping data off the internet and you may have given away your child’s date of birth, home town, first school, mother’s maiden name, father’s name, grandparents’ names and more. The same applies to wishing your friend, spouse, family member a specific Happy 21st 30th, 40th etc birthday.
  6. Don’t trade security for single sign on (SSO) convenience. See how many websites or services are using your Facebook account for authentication. t’s probably LOTS more than you think. Delete the ones you aren’t using. Disable the ones you aren’t using. Once you’ve disabled them you may want to go to that website and delete your account. Go to:
  7. Go to JustDeleteMe to aid in the deletion process.
  8. You should re-check all of your services once a year.

It’s not fun, but getting your identity stolen or accounts hacked is less fun. And it’s easier after the first time!


I have visited 7 continents and 80 countries. I have lived in 9 different countries. I speak English, Spanish, French, and Russian. I like to hike, ski, dive, eat, drink, and wander the wonders of the world.

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