Personality test spreads across Twitter

Filed Under: Spam

Has one of your Twitter friends invited you to take a personality test this weekend?

Just took the personality test on Twitter

A typical message might have read something like:

Just took the personality test on Twitter <link> #personality test

There certainly seem to have been plenty of Twitter users posting up this message in the last few hours, so what's behind it?

Well, if you click on the link you get taken to a website called Intelligent Elite, which describes itself as "a platform that allows intelligent people to find intelligent friends, intelligent love, and intelligent business partners" and claims to be connected with Mensa.

Of course, you may not be interested in searching for new love with a brainiac. But, in short, the site lures you in via a personality test - with the intention of signing you up to become a member. Hmm - remind you of any group in particular?

Well, this personality test may not be connected with Scientology, but you may soon find yourself trying to recruit other members as we'll soon see.

Clicking on the link takes you to cartoon of an Einstein-lookalike, encouraging you to take the personality test.

Intelligent Elite personality test

The test is a sequence of bland questions ("How do you like to spend your evenings?") with normally a choice of four pictures for you to click on beneath.

After a short while you're ready to get your results, and the site encourages you to promote the personality test on Twitter, and to message your Twitter friends as well to encourage them to take the test too.

Invite others to take the personality test

You'll notice that all the options to spread news of the test via your Twitter page, or by messaging your Twitter followers, are turned on by default. Clearly they're keen for you to promote their test for them.

And you're keen to find out the details of your "free and scientific" personality test, of course. So maybe you won't think twice of giving the Intelligent Elite website permission to read and write to your Twitter account.

Connect with Twitter?

Note that Intelligent Elite isn't stealing your username and password at this point - but you are giving it the rights to update your Twitter page, and to read your Tweets and other information if it so wishes.

Seeing as you've "only just met" Intelligent Elite - is this really what you want to allow it to do? After all, they weren't really upfront about what their true intention was, were they?

Sadly, many Twitter users seem to be comfortable with this - and so spam adverts for the Intelligent Elite personality test are appearing all over Twitter, with the permission of the individual Twitter users. And they will now find that they have signed-up and created a profile on what appears to be a network for dating intelligent people.

If you're now not feeling so sure about the benefits of this personality test, revoke the website's access to your Twitter account by visiting "Settings/Connections".

Twitter connection settings

If you're in the habit of allowing third-party websites to push mesages to your Twitter account, don't be surprised if your friends and acquaintances begin to get annoyed with the stream of spam. Intelligent Elite may not be doing anything illegal - after all, you gave it permission to make all the posts it made - but many may find the messages irritating and spammy.

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About the author

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, and veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.