Authors love to interact with readers and one of the most common ways is to post a game on our Facebook page, or Fan page, and encourage everyone to play. It’s sometimes silly and we can like or laugh with emojis or sympathize with a heart. We can answer questions and tell thing about ourselves because we’re having fun and interacting with our friends.
What we’re doing is harmless and cute. But what if it’s not?
Few authors create their own games. They borrow or share from others or modify games they’ve seen on other sites. But where did the game originate and who created it? Unfortunately, some are created by phishers looking for information, knowing we like to have fun on the internet. That doesn’t mean we can’t play games. It means we have to be super careful.
The first warning I ever saw came from the Sutton Police Department in the state of Massachusetts: “Please be aware of some of the posts you comment on. The posts that ask what was your first-grade teacher, who was your childhood best friend, your first car, the place you were born, your favorite place, your first pet, where did you go on your first flight … Those are the same questions asked when setting up accounts as security questions. You are giving out the answers to your security questions without realizing it.”
Scammers also try for more direct information. A game I frequently see is name the elf or what’s your dragon name, princess name, etc. Each month has an adjective and each date has a noun. If your birthday is January 1 and January had the word “cute” and the first had the word “helper,” well, you get the idea. Now the originator of the game (with something embedded in it to tell him it’s being played) has part of your birthday. Or he can go to your Facebook page and get your birthday right there if you’ve posted it.
Not all the games are harmful, but we need to be cognizant of what we are saying about ourselves and whether the information could be used inappropriately by someone who is “playing” along with us. As authors we need to think about what we’re asking our readers to share. As creatives, we need to make up our own games “on the spot.”
There are also dangers in the old “cut and paste, don’t share” request which tugs at your heart because most deal with serious topics, and the “do you know what this gadget is” that tries to pin down your age. Finally, do you take those fun internet quizzes? Those have a few pitfalls as well. But you can look up those scams for yourself.