The wilderness today is Facebook.
You’ve seen the questions:
Do you know someone who has had or died from Covid?
You forgot a gift for someone knocking at your door, so you give them the first thing to your left. What is it?
If I broke into your house and stole what is on top of your refrigerator, what would I get?
I bet you can’t think of a man’s name that doesn’t have an E in it.
Okay, first of all, that last one is so ridiculous it actually makes me angry and I’m not sure why; it’s not rational to be angry by stupid questions, but that’s the thing: it is a question I might have asked my son when he was three to test his spelling skills, but this is on Facebook, presumably by someone at least in their teens.
Then there are the people who actually answer these. I admit I’ve answered some because they are fun sometimes, and they don’t give away any information that could possibly hint toward my passwords, and I like to be sarcastic whenever possible, and this gives me a fine opportunity. Most of us are smart enough to avoid the questions which hint toward answers to the secret questions we answer for password recovery: I bet you can’t remember the first car you drove with a standard transmission (probably would be your first car). Or I bet you can’t remember the name of your third-grade teacher (just google the teacher’s name and elementary school teacher and you might find the school). This is “mining” for information. It is usually obvious which to answer and which not to.
More disturbing and the biggest hint that this is some bot-generated scam are the responses. Check closely: the people you know that answer have likes or other such emojis by only one or two people, and usually known by the person. But the rest of the comments are all liked, loved, laughed or cried at, wowed, and angered at by thousands! Come on! We are supposed to really believe that all those people who answered “Steve” or “Ben” to the name without an “e” comment had thousands and thousands of people at home online going “Oh Man! Yes! I gotta like that one!” and often these questions are shared tens of thousands of times. WHY? By WHOM?
So what’s the point?
First, they’re getting you to respond at all, and based upon your settings, this allows them to open your profile and read all about you, or it allows a computer to open your profile and generate ads based upon your likes, views, etc. Simply by responding to any of these for many people because of the privacy settings gives permission for others to surf around your page. Also, some of these questions are put out there by actual companies, such as radio stations or podcasts, and the bot-generator pushes it around the world with tens of thousands of computer generated likes and comments, all of which get thousand of likes, and these places have a “viewership” that pushes its homepage visibility through the roof.
But there’s something more interesting going on. For some reason we all have some deep-rooted need to answer questions, even if there is absolutely no point in doing so. We throw those answers out into the ether to simply be among others, to touch the wet paint next to the wet paint sign. It is as if subconsciously we feel the need to complete this task set before us, perhaps in some effort to participate in this harmless, funny game, giving each of us, depending upon the question, a chance to reminisce, join in, agree, prove our memory strength, or simply laugh for a few minutes.
Are they harmful? It’s probably better to assume that yes, they are. And we can’t blame the creators of these questions; it’s our own fault for answering. But since some of them aren’t problematic, and occasionally I’ve laughed out loud at some of the answers, including mine, I came up with my own. Feel free jump in and respond in the comment section below!
Here we go:
What’s your social security number?
What’s your mother’s maiden name?
What’s your address?
What’s the name of your first pet?
What’s the routing and account numbers of your last checking account?
See, that wasn’t so painful!