What will happen to you in 2017? And are you willing to sell your soul to advertisers in order to find out?

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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.

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UntitledMost 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.

But the wording in their privacy policy is ambiguous to say the least. Chocola Tests assures its visitors, “We do not sell, trade, or transfer your information in any way to third parties,” yet a few lines down, “Advertising companies may collect and use anonymous information about your interests to personalize the content of the advertisements.” Perhaps they’re hoping that you stop reading once you see that they aren’t selling your information before they admit that they are actually selling your information.

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.

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About Sara Otto

Sara is a senior pursuing a dual degree in Communications and Information. She is an aspiring broadcast journalist, primarily interested in politics, who hopes to contribute to a digital publication after graduating next year. She has never been afraid to challenge the status quo and constantly questions societal norms. When she isn't writing, you can find her climbing trees, baking vegan chocolate cakes, getting lost on purpose, or laughing at either herself or at nothing at all. As a wise man once said, "I do take my work seriously, and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously." -Alan Rickman
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