Today, January 28th, is World Data Protection Day. The holiday was established in April 2006 and timed to coincide with the signing of the Council of Europe Convention of 01/28/1981 «On the Protection of Persons in Connection with Automatic Processing of Personal Data». Its purpose is to remind users how important it is to use various information security tools, regularly change passwords in social networks and exercise reasonable distrust in cases where it is necessary to transfer information about yourself to someone unfamiliar.

What is personal data

In Russia, the Federal Law «On Personal Data» dated July 27, 2006 N 152-FZ is in force. According to it, personal data is any information that relates to you. Nobody can process your personal data without your written consent; exceptions relate to personal use by individuals, the operation of archives and other public services.

There are three categories of data:

  • general (name, address, phone number),
  • special (racial and national origin, political views, religious and philosophical beliefs, health status, intimate life);
  • biometric (fingerprints, retina, DNA analysis).

If we turn to judicial practice, this list also includes analytical personal data — cookies (temporary files that are stored in the browser: logins and passwords of different sites, previous search queries, completed profiles, etc.), email address, photos, IP address and location data. The latter — even without indicating the surname and name. In order not to receive a fine from Roskomnadzor, companies that collect a customer base (for example) are required to ask for your written consent to use any of your information, including cookies; therefore, on any site, you almost immediately click OK. This is written consent, which is legally enough to collect your digital footprint.

Why is personal data important?

From time to time, scandals flare up related to the leakage of personal data that this or that company allowed. One of the most high-profile cases in history is the data breach of 50 million Facebook users, which became known in April 2018 (you probably remember how Mark Zuckerberg spoke before Congress). The company had problems, because personal data is protected by law, and 50 million did not give written consent to the use of their data by third parties. But it’s a completely different matter when a person shares personal information himself.

The risks of your information falling into the wrong hands are quite high. In order to get three digits from the back of a credit card, type the command to debit money from the account or gain access to passport data, fraudsters can call themselves employees of a bank, mobile operator or government service.

It’s time to think about how to protect your data and what does it have to do with funny harmless tests “what kind of piece of furniture are you”.

Who wants to receive your data?

In addition to attackers who are interested in your wallet, a large number of relatively conscientious people are interested in personal information. They may also think about your wallet — to sell you something. Or they want to sell you to someone: your name, contacts, age, habits and interests in the form of pages that you like. What the person to whom it was sold will do with your information is unknown.

How does this happen? When you see the answer of “Capybara” to the “Who are you in the office zoo” test in the feed, you also pass the test: well, it’s interesting. The app asks several times if it can access your profile, friends list, photos, and timeline posts; at this time you think “what if a skunk?” — and quickly click OK everywhere. The deal went through: you gave an unknown company your whole life on this social network, a lot of information about yourself, and the company gave you a picture with a capybara that you can share.

So what’s now? You can take away the permission that was so treacherously lured from you. Go to settings, then to general account settings — then to applications — select «show all»; remove the ones you don’t use from the list of applications.

Why do people need online tests?

For this material, we asked two users who post tests from time to time — what they find in them. “I’ll tell you, it’s just passing the time, nothing more than fun,” replies the young man, whose chronicle is about three-quarters of tests. “Reminds me of tests in magazines like yes or Cosmo. Like at school! I know people who stick for hours. You can poke in the subway out of boredom, but I don’t see the point, ”his friend shares.

The people who came up with the online test format guessed something important about people. Here are the baits that work.

1) Cognitive ease, as Daniel Kahneman would call it. You seem to be busy with something mental, answering questions, but you get the result quickly and easily.

2) Flattery. And you are smart, and handsome, and you think like an ancient philosopher. What is your main disadvantage? Modesty. Only it prevents you from becoming famous all over the world. In tests, there are usually no bad or offensive options; in any case, you will be given something that is (most likely) nice to share. Or: “Only 5% of people can find the answer!” What are you, 95%, or what? And it does not matter that the bait is next to the simplest task.

3) Contact with a pleasant and familiar world — the Marvel universe, Harry Potter, any recent series. Introduction to something relevant, to what now occupies the minds

4) The result of the test is ready-made content that is created without effort and that can be shared. What, in fact, is the calculation.

5) There is also a social moment in the repost: you can compare yourself with friends, see what they have similar; look at others, show yourself.

6) Tests are a quick substitute for self-knowledge. Psychologist Dmitry Pokrovsky explains:

“An online test allows a person to get a lot of new, interesting (but not always useful and constructive) information about his internal characteristics in the shortest possible time. No need to go to a session in a psychologist’s office for new information that may reveal new facets of personality; man saves time and money. Another thing is goal setting. Even professionally designed testing without professional advice can be disorienting for a person.

Tests bring a lot of positive emotions, because a person receives answers to his questions, perhaps hints at the causes of internal contradictions, fears, experiences. As a rule, we subconsciously choose exactly those types of tests that we need at some particular stage of life (self-realization, relationships, sex, etc.). It’s nice to share answers with others, because we need approval and feedback in general. In addition, if the test results are very good, for many it increases self-esteem. ”

Are you ready to give away information about yourself in exchange for meaningless flattery from a robot? If you’re ready, no problem!

And if not, let’s see what the alternatives are.

Live alternatives to online tests

Online tests themselves are essentially substitutes for: communication, feedback from others, self-knowledge and entertainment. You can go in an unusual way: understand what exactly you find in these tests, and instead of a substitute, demand the original for yourself.

Would you like to hear kind words about yourself? Show the world how awesome you are? Have fun? Learn more about yourself? There are wonderful, live “analogue” ways to do all this: a new occupation, a new place, a new company. Unlike the online test, they require more than 2 minutes, but they are also more entertaining and much more occupied.

If you are interested in “how others see you”, ask those around you — those who know you well, treat you well and wish you well. Or play Mafia.

What are you doing to get to know yourself better? Share your thoughts in the comments!


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