If You Were a ________, You’d Be ________ .

If You Were a ________, You’d Be ________ . Photo (cc) by Elizabeth/Table4Five

If I were a John Hughes classic, I would be “The Breakfast Club.” If I were a Game of Thrones character, I’d be Jon Snow. If I was a Muppet, I’d be Scooter.

Chances are, if you’re like millions of Americans, you’ve recently been sucked into filling out online quizzes, like those mentioned above from BuzzFeed and Zimbio, then posting your results on Facebook.

But these quizzes, which the New York Post says have recently broken Web traffic records and produced more Facebook comment threads than any viral post in Facebook history, are providing more than just a few minutes of entertainment for you and your friends. They are an easy and free way for marketers to collect your data.

Summer Anne Burton, managing editorial director at BuzzFeed, told Marketplace.org:

We’ve been making quizzes for a long time, but we’ve recently seen them take off. Now that we’ve sold some companies on the idea of quizzes … we’re now looking at how to use the things that we’ve learned for companies’ benefit. So they can have their own shareable pieces of content that go viral and that are really associated with their brand.

While most of the information you provide probably seems mundane – like your favorite movie, or preferred alcoholic beverage or favorite color, it’s valuable information to marketers, Marketplace.org said.

It also noted that we are providing information without hesitation, then encouraging our friends and family to do the same.

According to Lancaster Online, Stacey Irwin, associate professor of communications at Millersville University, said:

If the end result of the quiz is fun — you like the character they thought you most resemble — then you share it with your social media networks and everyone has a good laugh.

So you are now sharing your friends list, your likes and dislikes in music and movies, and those other bits of information available on Facebook and Twitter with whoever made the quiz, and the future people these folks might want to share it with.

BuzzFeed told Lancaster Online that it does not share individual-specific data.

If you don’t want to give up taking quizzes online, but you do want to protect your privacy, follow these simple rules from Lancaster Online:

  • Don’t share your results publicly on Facebook or other social networking sites.
  • Don’t take any quiz that requires your personal information.
  • Read up on the privacy policies of the websites you frequent. They’re usually found somewhere on the “About Us” page.

Are you a self-admitted quizaholic, like me? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.

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