As the year draws to a close and we begin to reflect on the last twelve months, thinking about what might change with the New Year, third party advertisers are thinking about new ways to make money on the personal information you have made available on sites like Facebook.
If you are familiar with Facebook, you must also be familiar with the often absurd, sorta-kinda-not-really-funny quizzes that tell you who you should room with, who you should marry, who your best friend is, what celebrity you look like, etc.
Most of these applications are not actually affiliated with Facebook. Let’s look at one I’ve noticed recently as the New Year approaches: “What will happen to you in 2017?”
This specific case is particularly ridiculous given that there is no real way to predict what will happen to you in 2017, but the site hosting the application is called chocolatests.com. Chocola Tests claims to be “using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site.”
“Cookies” are breadcrumbs Internet users leave all over the place that store data about them. They are used for a wide variety of purposes, most of which are helpful, but websites can retrieve the data stored within them and distribute it to companies looking to profit from your personal information, primarily advertisers.
Sites like Chocola Tests have taken cookies to another level by asking for your permission to access nearly all of the information about you available on Facebook and subsequently package that information to sell to advertisers.
When you authorize Chocola Tests to access your personal data, you are not only providing them with your name or other information that is publicly available, but you are authorizing them access to your Facebook message inbox in order to “deliver both more entertaining and more credible results.” Chocola Tests promises to keep information you provide secure, “We guarantee and ensure the best possible way your information is safe,” but they don’t specify exactly what is “the best possible way” to keep your information safe or specify where they are storing your information.
Most of the sites looking to gather information about Internet users do not have malicious intentions. The information they collect will likely never be attributed to you personally, but rather to the IP address of your device so as to deliver more personalized ads you are more likely to click on. However it is still important to think about the potential implications of signing away our souls to sites like Chocola Tests simply for a baseless prediction of your future.