27 Investigates: Online quizzes are looking for more than correct answers

The authors of those quizzes harvest your answers and other details you've given to target you with ads or worse

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Courtesy: WSPA

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Facebook quizzes can tell you a lot about yourself, like what movie character you are, what cartoon character you are, or even what kind of garlic bread you feel like. While it’s fun, these quizzes and games often have ulterior motives.

The quizzes take just a few seconds to complete, but their impact can last for weeks or even longer.

Rachel Corbin, of Lordstown, said she takes the quizzes because she’s curious about the results. She didn’t know advertisers rely on that curiosity, taking her answers and saving them forever.

“That really bothers me. It never really crossed my mind,” Corbin said.

The authors of those quizzes harvest your answers and other details you’ve given to target you with ads.

Watch: Online quizzes are looking for more than correct answers

Youngstown’s Better Business Bureau President Carol Potter said she once clicked through a healthy living quiz. Now she’s reminded of it every day.

“Since that day, I have to spend five minutes every day closing the ads that come from different health sources, a professional who wrote a book, it is just endless,” Potter said.

Nicholas Merker helps clients with data privacy and security for the Ice Miller Law firm. He said most of the quizzes are pretty harmless.

“It’s a brilliant advertising strategy, really, because you get people to fill out all this information in the quiz about themselves,” Merker said. “What you’re doing is, you’re providing an advertiser all of that information about yourself so they can create that profile about who you are and hopefully target you with ads that you might actually click.”

Some of the quizzes have more sinister goals, though. They can be used to steal your identity or hack your accounts. Others are used to put more information about you into data clouds.

Dr. Adam Earnheardt teaches students at Youngstown State about online privacy.

“You’re actually giving up tons of data, tons of personal information to somebody you don’t know,” he said.

Corbin said she’s going to be more careful online.

“I guess just being cautious about what you’re using. I never really considered those quizzes could cause someone to hack your Facebook.”

So the next time you’re tempted to find out what Italian dish suits your personality, think about what the data miners could be doing with your answers.


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