Clicking away your privacy: What hackers don't want you to know

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FLINT (WJRT) - (11/27/17) - If you're one of the many millions of Americans who have a Facebook account, chances are you've probably seen various kinds of quizzes floating around on your news feed.

You may have even taken some.

They seem fun and innocent, but experts say they're a breeding ground for hackers.

"It's just fun when you're bored like what it says about you," said avid Facebook quiz fan Kendall Evelyn.

Evelyn loves taking the quizzes she sees on her feed -- everything from fortune telling, to what you'll look like in the future, to guessing Disney characters by their clothing.

"Usually I just kind of find them, I'll just be scrolling past them and then if I read what the quiz is about and it sounds funny, I'll take it," she said.

But Baker College Cyber Security Instructor Doug Witten said when Facebook users agree to login with their account to take a quiz, there's so much more beyond that click.

"What can people gain from that information, well they're not doing it for free. They have ulterior motives," Witten said.

For example, we took a look at a privacy policy from a popular quiz site. According to that policy, it reads they may collect personal information, including your name, profile picture, gender, IP address and Facebook friend list.

"You're opening up yourself to allow your friends' lists, anything about you where you've worked, any personal thing that's out there about you that's in your Facebook account," Witten said.

So where then does that personal information go? Another excerpt reads they may publish or share with third parties aggregate information for the purpose of analytics and statistics.

"You've basically agreed to allow them to share your information, because they're not just doing it for themselves. They're turning around and using that information elsewhere, selling it to other folks, freely giving it to other third parties," Witten said.

Speaking of third parties, that same privacy policy goes on to read "we are not responsible for the practices employed by any web sites or services, including the information or content contained within them."

"The question is or the problem is -- what is that third party going to do with that data? Are they going to turn around and sell it to somebody who is out to make profit out of it?" Witten asked.

Profit, that's at the expense of your personal information.

"Who knows where it is at and who knows if it's going to hurt you today or a year and a half down the road," Witten said.

If you've taken one of the quizzes and want to know if you're account has been hacked, just ask your friends.

"Hey I just got a friends request from you, I'm already friends with you, or you've sent me some kind of a message to go to a site," Witten said.

And that's where he said you have to be extra careful, because hackers are always one step ahead of the game.

You may also notice random pop up ads that ask you to click OK or cancel. Witten said don't do it. Instead, turn off your phone or computer.

"You can program those buttons to do anything you want," he said. "You click anywhere on that thing, that basically would say they can program it to say yes, install the software."

A few other tips to protect yourself include staying up to date on software upgrades, limit your personal information on Facebook and make your passwords not about you.

"That would definitely make me not really do it anymore because I don't want to put that on somebody else's phone or computer," Evelyn said.

She plans to look at the quizzes and content she sees more cautiously and hopes others will do the same.

"Yeah I definitely think if more people knew like how it was being used and what was going on with it, that they would try to stay away from the quizzes," she said.

There are many different kinds of sites that offer various kinds of entertaining quizzes.

Witten encourages people to read the privacy policies of any quiz site before taking a quiz. If in doubt, Witten advises people to just skip the poll.

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