I see this crap on Facebook all the time, and it has to stop.
What is your porn name? What is your Hogwarts name? What is your droid name? (That one was today.) Answer these 20 questions and pass it on to N people. List your ten favorite movies and pass it on to N people.
All of these, all of them, are either created by data mining concerns as a trick to get more of your information, or they’re being exploited by them for that purpose. Stop answering them!
The amount of privacy anyone has online is pretty depressing these days, but it’s alarming what people are convinced to share in these questionnaires and quizzes and “your X name” posts. Most of Facebook is way too wide open, and the people who share these posts typically have no boundaries, which means those answers are up there for just about anyone to get. That information can and will be abused, once it reaches some critical threshold.
Someday I’m going to be a beloved supervillain and make it legal to literally hunt down the people who abuse that info against you. But until that day comes, use a little common sense and don’t answer that poll. Don’t tell anyone your hobbit name that’s based on your birthday and the street where you grew up.
I know I sound a bit like a conspiracy nut at the moment, but Big Data is in fact real and they absolutely do scour your social media. They already know a great deal about me, I’m sure, and I’m relatively guarded by social media standards. The truth is I don’t know if they create most of these chain posts or if most of them come from regular people and they simply wait for the answers to roll in. But if I ran a data mining concern I would absolutely have someone on staff to meme up a few new posts like this a day. It would be trivial to do that, and the payoff in new data—especially over time as the post made it out to a wider audience—would be terrific. We know these companies exist, and we know that this tactic would be cheap to implement, which means they are doing it; logically, they must be behind some of these data gathering memes.
So people, these things can be fun get-to-know-you exercises, but remember: You’re not in a safe space. This is not your friends’ living room.