We live in a turbulent world where our right to privacy is at stake and anything you say or do or have done in the past is stored in a server somewhere that is open to attacks and threats.
The US Government has come down heavily on companies such as Facebook and Google regarding the privacy laws they are breaking.
Quora, a relatively quiet entity when compared to these tech giants, was in the news recently for getting hacked and compromising millions of accounts.
But what does this mean? Why would hackers go through all the trouble to get the information of random people?
Hackers are criminals and will extort, hold for ransom, threaten users with their information. Another reason for stealing data is for usurping the identity of the end user. There are plenty of things hackers can do with your information that is out of the scope of this article.
We delve into the safety issues of Quora. Is this a site that is safe to use or not?
Let’s understand this better
The Recent Quora Hack
Quora has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. In a recent email, they informed users that their accounts were compromised (Another word for hacked) and the information of over 100 million accounts had been stolen by the hackers.
The details that were stolen were
- Account information such as Name of the user, email address, password and data imported from Facebook and Twitter when users chose to sign-up with those social networks.
- Publicly available information like Questions asked, answers answered, comments and upvotes
- Non-public actions such as downvotes etc
The Aftermath and What it Means for You
Quora was very quick to inform their users that their data was compromised and they immediately logged out the accounts that were compromised, prompting users to change their passwords.
What this means for you is, hackers have access to your email address and name and other information imported from other social networks. This is very dangerous and you should change your passwords in all your other accounts.
How do you protect yourself in the future from such attacks? You have to create two-factor authentications on all your important accounts like Gmail and Facebook and when you make an account on Quora or other such platforms it’s suggested to sign-up directly with email and not sign-up with the help of another social network. This ensures that your information from other social networks don’t get compromised when Quora is hacked.
Quora is sure to bring advanced security measures to protect from hacking in the future. Whether we like it or not, every social platform has been hacked. Quora’s product engineering team is one of the strongest in Silicon Valley and the founder himself is an ex-Facebook engineer who is more than capable of thwarting future attempts.
In a nutshell, a future Quora hacking scandal is very unlikely.
Is Quora Safe for Children and Women?
At the outset, I honestly don’t think Quora is very safe for children. It’s very easy to create a fake account on Quora with minimum credentials and information that is provided to open a Gmail account.
Private messaging was an option in the past, where any user could message another user without any restrictions. But now users have control of who can reach out to them. But by default, anybody can message anybody.
This is a dangerous feature that can and will be abused by criminals who are looking to target young children who don’t care about changing their personal settings.
The user below can be messaged directly without even following them.
Here is another example of a user that can’t be messaged even after following them.
Bullying on Quora – Naming and Shaming
Quora has a BNBR policy in place, which means if users want to remain on the platform, they have to abide by the rules, not use and filthy language, attack another user and so on. But even after putting a BNBR policy in place, Quora users attack other users in the name of expressing their views.
One of the common ways, bullying happens on Quora is through the Anonymous feature, where any person can go anonymous and answer a question. Under the clout of anonymity many users abuse, name & shame other users which is more prevalent than what most users think.
Safety of women
Quora is built in a way where it’s common to express oneself and share details of personal lives to answer a question on the platform. Many bad-elements take this information and cyber stalk women on the platform and on other social networks and get in touch with them, threaten them, abuse them and more.
It is recommended to share as less as possible on the platform to avoid these circumstances, especially for women.
Getting attention on Quora
Quora is a platform where one can gain a fan following and can be recognized with a few answers. A lot of young children start using the platform and discuss their personal lives that bring them upvotes which appeals to their narcissistic side. Some children share such personal information that they don’t even share on their private networks like Facebook and Snapchat thinking they are relaying this information to only strangers. Miscreants and criminals can use this information in terrible ways and this is one of the reasons, why Quora is not that safe as a platform.
What is Quora’s advertising policy?
Generally, the advertising options of social networks reveal how well the platform knows the users. Facebook’s targeting is so specific that it was actually quite possible to target a single person on Facebook through their advertising platform.
Although this has been modified, Facebook still collects a TON of data on the user that can not only give basic details such as a name and email address but also details like the phone they use, the movies they like to watch, the places they’ve been to, the place they currently are at and other intimate details a stranger shouldn’t know about you.
Having said that, let’s see how Quora’s advertising platform works.
The way they let you target users is through 5 main types
- Topic Targeting
- Question Targeting
- Audience Targeting
- Interest Targeting
- Broad Targeting
Among all of the above, every type of targeting is harmless because it doesn’t involve non-public data except Audience Targeting.
Let’s see how specifically one can target on Quora.
Three ways to target an audience on Quora
- From your website traffic
- A lookalike audience
- A list match
Based on all this information it’s clear that Quora’s audience targeting capabilities are nowhere near that of Facebook’s and they don’t know that much about the end user to let advertisers target them based on interest, demographics and other details.
But it’s sure to change soon because Quora expects you to update your profile details like your school information, job information, cities you have lived in etc.
They are sure to collect more information from the end users in the near future.
Is Quora Safe for your Privacy?
This is the million dollar question. The answer is yes and no and it depends on how you use it. If you distrust social media sites in general and the privacy laws they break, then you will more than likely not have a problem.
Users who are wary of social media generally don’t share too much of their information, they don’t provide data to the social network and also assume an alias that can’t be traced back to them.
The problem comes with users who don’t distrust social media or even worse, there’s apathy. For them, Quora can be a double-edged sword. You can lose your privacy by providing information to Quora such as adding your credentials, your job details, the city you live in etc.
Another way you can lose your privacy is by connecting other social accounts such as Facebook, Linkedin to your Quora account which gives Quora the information as well.
But the worst way that nobody considers is by sharing too much of your personal life on the platform while answering personal questions.
Information like where you live, your spouse’s name, the name of your kids and their personal photos, photos of your house, details of your employment and so on.
Believe it or not, many users without considering the consequences of their action provide all the information on Quora for millions of eyes to see.
This is also not a platform where you can restrict your content access, it’s a free for all.
So the best way to stay safe from your privacy getting affected is by not sharing any personal information that can be used against you.
Stay anonymous and stay happy!