The 10-year photo challenge. Quizzes that encourage you to tell the whole world all about your likes, dislikes and favorite people or events from the past.
What do all of these things have to do with one another? They’re all “social media challenges” prevalent on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that seem innocent, yet have the ability to put your safety and privacy at risk.
Sound surprising? Stick with us for just a few minutes; we’ll tell you what you need to know to identify these “dares” and reveal why they’re so inherently risky.
- The 10-Year Challenge: This dare rolled out in early January, 2019. Facebook memes encouraged people to share a current picture of themselves alongside a 10-year-old picture. The goal? Showcase just how much you’ve changed over the years.What’s wrong with comparing the past to the future? Well, not much, really, if you’re sharing photos among friends. But in the case of Facebook, there may be more at stake. The platform has been developing and testing facial recognition software for almost a decade now with the expressed intention of making it easier to detect faces in photos.That 10-year challenge set you just posted? It just might be teaching Facebook how to more accurately track you as you age. That makes Facebook’s facial recognition algorithm smarter and faster.This isn’t really a terrible thing at face value (pun intended). The problem is Facebook’s history of selling personal information to questionable sources (and really, selling to anyone is questionable). This includes when they turned a blind eye to Cambridge Analytica as they blatantly collected and re-sold user information.
Could Facebook sell your visual identification or biometrics to government agencies, people who wish to market to you, or even criminals? It’s certainly possible.
Still not convinced facial recognition is a problem? Consider that Amazon uses similar technology on their platforms – and they actively provide it to police and other law enforcement agencies. That’s a recipe for corruption and abuse just waiting to happen.
- Your _____ Name: Facial recognition is just one facet of this conversation; those little brief quizzes that ask you to find your “fair name,” “stripper name,” or even “superhero name” are of concern, too. These quizzes manifest in a few different ways; usually, they classify your option by a numbered list. To “find your name,” you scan the list and find the number representing the day you were born (or maybe the year, or the first few letters of your name – some identifying factor is always involved). Then, you’re encouraged to share your new name with the world.The problem with this is that in as little as one share, you just instantly revealed your birthday and birth year – powerful identifying information that could be abused by identity thieves. You also instantly classify yourself to Facebook, allowing them to show you better-targeted ads. And while there’s no real proof Facebook uses this kind of information (yet… there wasn’t any proof of Cambridge Analytica at first, either), it’s still better to skip them.
- Long-Form Quizzes: This particular challenge has been around forever. In fact, the first instances probably rolled out even before Facebook went public back in the early to mid ‘00s. A friend shares a long list of personal questions in the form of a “quiz.” The setup is that you read you friend’s quiz, learn more about them and then share the same info about you to all of your friends, too.How quaint. Friendship is lovely, isn’t it? At least it is until you realize you just revealed your favorite food, the place you were born, your best friend’s name, your mother’s maiden name, the name of your first pet, your favorite subject in high school and the year you were born to virtually the entire world.What’s so bad about that? “Facts” like these are often worked into the passwords people use for email addresses, bank account logins and yes, social media profiles, too. If your passwords happen to contain any of the quiz answers you included, you have essentially made it much easier for someone to hack your accounts, steal your information or even engage in identity theft.Before you fill quizzes like these out, think critically about the information you’re sharing with the world. If it isn’t something you would happily publish in a major newspaper, don’t share it! Save it for cozy evenings at home chatting with friends instead.
And as for those passwords that contain phrases common to your life and your most important past events? Get rid of them. Use stronger passwords containing at least one number, one symbol, and one capital letter instead. Or, use a password keeper like 1Password to help keep you safer in the online world.
The digital world is frightening, folks. Stay safe out there.