Psychological Quizzes on Facebook: Will Our Privacy-Respecting Approach Work?

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With the completion of a big project last Friday, several of our psychological self-tests and quizzes are now available as Facebook apps. But here’s our big gamble: can a privacy-respecting quiz app that doesn’t advertise itself by plastering your results all over the place actually be successful?

Facebook application development has turned out to be quite a learning process for us. Facebook provides reams of documentation about the process and plenty of sample code, but every single piece of code we could find assumes that any Facebook application should request full access to your personal information and then start doing something with it.

Our app development team has taken careful steps to steer well clear of Facebook’s assumptions about sharing personal information and — for now, anyway, while Facebook actually permits an app not to dig into personal information — you will not be asked to share any personal information with any of our apps. (Note for the future: it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Facebook were to start forcing apps to suck up personal data, under the guise of “supporting the Facebook platform”.)

Facebook quiz answers will be scored in the same way they are on itself — right in your own web browser, using JavaScript. No answers will be transmitted to this site or to Facebook, and no information about you or the fact you have tried the quiz will be stored by this site.

The one fly in the ointment with our privacy-respecting approach to Facebook app development is that by making the deliberate design choice not to ask people for their personal details when they use our apps, we have in effect given up the opportunity to tap into the whole Facebook infrastructure normally leveraged for spreading the word about such things automatically. Our alcoholism test app won’t be writing to your wall “Hey, Ralph just took the Alcoholism Test, and it turns out he’s a wino!”. That would be great for letting all of Ralph’s friends know about our app, but for Ralph’s privacy? Not so much.

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So, here’s the big question for us: can you help us spread the word about these new quizzes in a lower-key way than plastering quiz results all over people’s Facebook status updates? If you have a peek at them and find you like one or more of the apps, can you give us a shout out and let a friend or two know?

Or are we just being silly about privacy? Should we just assume that if you’re using Facebook — social network that it is — then you’re happy to be social about sharing psychological quiz results with all your friends? (Seriously, maybe my own judgement is wrong about this, and people really would be happy to have their information shared around.)

I hope you’ll take a look. Here’s the current batch, all available from the Facebook page:

Oh, and one last thing: each of the quizzes is designed to be easy to install on any other Facebook page. So, if you happen to be the admin any other Facebook page (formerly called a ‘fan page’) for an organisation or business, you can easily make any of the quizzes part of your own setup with roughly 30 seconds of effort.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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