Facebook quizzes put information at risk

September 11, 2009 6:54:23 PM PDT
When you take a Facebook quiz do you know what information you are giving up? Probably more than you think.

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These quizzes are all over Facebook and are a lot of fun. They'll tell you which super hero you are most like or perhaps which president you should admire most. Taking these quizzes doesn't cost you money, but that doesn't mean you aren't going to pay.

Anna Naimark is taking a quiz on Facebook. But this one isn't about super heroes or politics -- it strikes much closer to home.

This quiz has been written and posted by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU. It's objective is to show users what personal information they could be giving up when taking a Facebook-based quiz.

The quiz has gathered a lot of information about Naimark.

"So it is showing groups that I am in, links I have shared," said Naimark.

Her name, home town, pictures she posted and some her friends posted were shown.

"People are very surprised to learn that these quizzes have access to not only their personal information, but their friends person al information which means of course when their friends take a quiz that quiz has access to their information," said Chris Conley from the ACLU .

Conley wrote the quiz and wants Facebook to change its privacy policy to make sure this information isn't given up unknowingly.

"There are privacy settings to turn off some of this, but unfortunately many users don't recognize they exist," he said

"My friends could put a breach to my privacy without even knowing it and that kind of freaks me out," said Naimark.

Facebook says no application can access the most sensitive information like user contact info and the company says it is in the process of changing things.

They said: "To further improve people's control over their information and enable them to make more informed choices about their privacy."

In a statement to the media Facebook goes on to say: "These improvements will include new notifications, additions to Facebook's Privacy Policy, and technical changes designed to give people more transparency and control over the information they provide to third-party applications."

Facebook points out that users can change their privacy settings now, and the ACLU quiz shows where you can go to get that done.

The default setting now pretty much allows information to flow from the user to the application, unless the user takes steps to stop that. The ACLU wants the default settings to be the opposite of that. users would have to go out of their way to allow information to be released.

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