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Facebook Users Tricked Into Revealing Personal Data In Weird “Lab Rat” Behavior Experiment

personal data being revealed

Personal data is being freely given up by Facebook users in many online quizes.

Your personal data is being collected through some new tactics and you might be participating in behavioral science experiments without your consent and not even realize it – especially if you take the wrong quizzes online.

More than six million Facebook users were tricked into participating in a behavioral science experiment disguised as a quiz. The experiment called MyPersonality operated on Facebook for several years and collected personal data from millions of people.

The data collected by the MyPersonality Facebook page was made available to scientists and companies all over the world, The New Scientist reported. Anybody was able to log in and get access to the data with just a password and a username.

Personal Data and Psychometric Guinea Pigs?

The accessible data included the ages, genders, and relationship status of up to 4.3 million people. Personality scores that revealed behavior traits such as conscientiousness and agreeability were also publicly available.

MyPersonality was reportedly operated by data scientists in the Psychometrics Center at England’s University of Cambridge. The scientists were using the data in their research and in business ventures.

Politicians And Big Business Used Data from Facebook Experiment

Two of the scientists behind My Personality, David Stillwell and Michal Kosinski, ran a company called Cambridge Personality Research. Cambridge Personality Research sold a marketing tool that built advertisements aimed at specific personalities. The data the tool was based on was collected by MyPersonality.

Another researcher behind MyPersonality was Alexandr Kogan, who has been connected to Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica advised political campaigns, including the effort to take Britain out of the European Union or Brexit. President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are also accused of using personal data in their respective presidential  runs in 2016 as do most candidates in almost any campaign. Cambridge Analytica is now out of business.

More than 280 people and organizations accessed the data collected by MyPersonlity. Giant corporations that used MyPersonality included Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, which is now a part of Verizon.

Facebook Aware Personal Data Being Revealed

Facebook itself was very aware of MyPersonality and the data it collected. Somebody at Facebook was also accessing the data collected by MyPersonality.

The MyPersonality App was up and running on Facebook as recently as April 7, 2018, The New Scientist reported. Facebook only removed MyPersonality after an investigation by the British government’s Information Commissioner.

Code that allowed anybody to get access to MyPersonality data was available on the website GitHub, The New Scientist reported. GitHub is a marketplace for digital tools used by software engineers and developers. Github is a public website that anybody can access.

Big Gov and Big Biz Needs Your Personal Data

Disturbingly, MyPersonality was far from alone; Facebook suspended over 200 pages that were collecting personality data. The gathering of personal data is becoming a big business as vast numbers of people are trying to cash in by collecting and selling your data.

A German entrepreneur, Dr. Christian Lange, has even labeled personal data “the oil of the 21stCentury” because of its value. Lange has built an app called Opiria that is supposed to serve as a marketplace where average people will sell their data to big corporations like General Motors.

It would be a good idea to think twice next time somebody online asks you to take a quiz. There is a strong possibility that the quiz is really a psychological test designed to collect personal data about your behavior that someone plans to sell and the government plans to add to your dossier.


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