Don’t “Be Like Bill” And Have Your Privacy Invaded

By now you’ve probably come across the “Be Like Bill” meme on your Facebook wall. Some of you may have created your own version of it. However, as annoying as this meme is there’s something even more sinister lurking beneath it.

Facebook Quizzes & Data Mining

You see, quizes and games such as “Be Like Bill” on Facebook are designed with a single purpose –  to steal your private data . Let’s take the example of “Be Like Bill”.

The guys behind the Be Like Bill meme are a website called Blobla (web archive version), probably a bunch of developers sitting in Vietnam. Here is an excerpt from the terms and conditions on their website:

All the content is for entertainment purpose. The quiz and game results maybe correct or incorrect to you. You should not be serious about the results for any reason.

Could do with better English, but the meaning is clear.

Your information you provide to us is used only to generate the results for the games you play or the quizzes you take.

So, they basically analyse your private Facebook data (connections, activities and preferences) to generate a result. Hmm…a bit intrusive. So now that they have your personal data, here’s what they do next:

Once you agree, the file is added and the cookie helps analyse web traffic or lets you know when you visit a particular site. Cookies allow web applications to respond to you as an individual. The web application can tailor its operations to your needs, likes and dislikes by gathering and remembering information about your preferences.

So in return for a silly picture or a quiz result (which BTW is made from private data) that “maybe correct or incorrect to you”, you allow Blobla to use your private information and track every movement of yours on the Internet. You won’t add a random stranger as a friend, but you’ll let Blobla know every website that you visit?! Really, Blobla?

Quizzes and Games On Facebook Invade Your Privacy

Obama will say just anything to steal your Facebook data
Obama will say just anything to steal your Facebook data

There are literally hundreds of such clickbait games, quizzes on Facebook that –

  1. access and use your personal data,
  2. inject cookies (and at times malware) into your browser,
  3. and track what you do in order to serve you ads (and other malicious sites).

What is the age of your soul?

Which is your funniest picture?

Who will confess their love for you on Valentines?

How many friends have a crush on you?

Oh man, so exciting!!! I wonder how many friends have a crush on me, or which one will confess their love for me on Valentines?

Don’t be that person!

Such games and quizzes rely purely on the viral factor, hence these catchy subjects to ensnare their victims. It’s complete bullshit and yet it’s incredible how many people, day in and day out, fall for these privacy invading clickbaits. And for what? A couple of likes and comments?

OK, the results may contain some truth in them because after all YOU’RE PROVIDING ACCESS TO ALL YOUR PRIVATE DATA! And also because of how you interpret the results with your personal biases, making you believe what you want to believe.

How Do Meaww Quizzes Work?

People will fall for anything and let their privacy be invaded
People will fall for anything and let their privacy be invaded

Another website that provides privacy invading games and quizzes on Facebook is Meaww. Their privacy policy too contains gems such as:

With respect to users who voluntarily register to our services (by logging in to their Facebook account),  Meaww may collect personally-identifying information that is unique to such users such as their name, profile picture, gender, internet protocol (IP) address and Facebook friend list. 

We may also examine and analyze your feedback and answers to the quizzes in our WebSite to serve ads that you may enjoy or find interesting.

For example,  if a user participates in content around new model cars, We may infer that this user is planning to purchase a new vehicle or that he/she recently purchased a new vehicle. Alternatively, if a user indicates in a quiz that he/she enjoys baseball, We may infer this user is a sport fan. 

This stuff is hilarious. Also, rock solid prediction algorithm, guys.

And if you read the entire privacy policy, you’ll realise how poorly drafted it is so that it leaves enough ambiguity to let them do what they please with your personal and private data.

The Bottom Line

Seriously guys, stop with these quizzes and games on Facebook. Not for me or your friends (who can just block the app), but for your own personal online safety & security. These clickbait quizzes and games are designed to steal into your private data, and use it while tracking your movement on the Internet.

And in some cases, but not always, these data stealing bastards may infect your device with malware. So, always read the terms and conditions of these websites before you jump into their devious clickbait traps. If you don’t mind sacrificing your personal data and privacy for a momentary giggle, that’s your call. But you should always know what you’re getting yourself into.

For those who prefer a visual method of communication than a written one, watch this video by Business Insider that pretty much sums up this post.

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      Don’t take the bait. Stay away from promotions of “exclusive,” “shocking” or “sensational” video or photos.

When in doubt, throw it out. Delete unsolicited emails or social media messages that raise red flags.

Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, mouse over the link to see where it will take you. Don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.

Don’t trust your “friends” online. It might not actually be your friends who are “liking” or sharing scam links to photos. Their account may have been hacked and scammers could be using another tactic called “clickjacking”. Clickjacking is a technique that scammers use to trick you into clicking on social media links that you would not usually click on.

 

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Make better decisions people. Be yourself, and not like Bill.

Devesh Sahai

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