Why are people on TikTok obsessed with Little Miss quizzes? And are they harvesting my data?

So Alyx, I’ve seen lots of Little Miss memes all over the elderly internet (Instagram and Facebook), but apparently they’ve now morphed into quizzes on TikTok?

Yes, a series of 21st century updates on ​​Roger Hargreaves’s Mr Men and Little Miss children’s books have been pretty much inescapable on social media for the past few weeks (unless, like me, you unfollow every account that posts one). Don’t assume the youngs are immune either – on TikTok the hashtag #littlemiss has racked up 188m views and counting.

But now people are no longer content to figure out for themselves whether they’re Little Miss Relaxes to True Crime or Mr Burnt Out Freelancer – they need quizzes to tell them.

Can you explain how a quiz on TikTok even works? Or are they on a separate site?

The user-generated quizzes aren’t native to TikTok. People take them on another website and then post their results and reactions on TikTok. Thus inspiring more people to do the same thing.

A single Little Miss quiz video, posted seven hours ago at time of writing, was already up to 500,000 views. “Little Miss quiz” is also trending on Google. People really want to know what Little Miss they are!

One Little Miss quiz on UQuiz asked about the user’s favourite Squishmallow toy.
One Little Miss quiz on UQuiz asked about the user’s favourite Squishmallow toy. Photograph: UQuiz

So all this sounds super familiar to me – lots of people taking quizzes, telling some company all about themselves. Could there be privacy risks here?

Well, if you look at the privacy policy on the platform that hosts the most popular of these quizzes, UQuiz – as Mashable did – it’s hypothetically possible, yes.

UQuiz, which is a quiz-making platform, says: “We will not rent or sell personally-identifiable information that has been collected as part of the services that we provide to any third party.”

However, it also says: “When you take a quiz, your responses are collected on behalf of the quiz creator. This may include but is not limited to the name provided at the start of the quiz, the answers you provided, fill in the blank values entered, the time taken to answer each question, your final result and the quiz as a whole.

“By taking a quiz on our website you acknowledge and agree that any information, including personally-identifiable information is collected and stored on behalf of the quiz creator and is made available to the quiz creator through their account, in real-time and in downloadable form.”

This means that the creator of a quiz potentially has access to the names and answers provided by every person who has taken it.

Which might not be that helpful in terms of mass data harvesting if people have entered a random name at the start of the quiz, but if they put in, say, their TikTok handle, or they have a profile on UQuiz already that contains personal information, well that’s a different box of frogs.

How much can they even tell about a person based on what Little Miss character they are?

For the sake of journalism, I have taken the most popular version of the quiz. There are questions about your taste in music, accessories, plush toys and booze; and about your long-term aspirations and humiliating life experiences.

So by the end of the quiz, if you answer honestly and give a name that can be matched to a social profile, it is entirely plausible that the quiz creator will know that I am a vape-addicted Grimes fan who loves hair clips and mojitos, and that my favourite colour is rainbow (only one of these statements is true).

That sounds pretty broad, but definitely enough to sell off to advertisers. We know Facebook’s parent company Meta is hurting (to the tune of $10bn) after Apple introduced that handy little function to stop advertisers tracking you across the internet. Do you think this might be a new way for companies to make user profiles to then sell ads to?

This is purely in the realm of the hypothetical, but yes, it could be enough to create a customer fingerprint to sell to advertisers, provided you can match someone’s quiz name with other publicly available information about them. What is even more likely is that a quiz creator could potentially sell the results of their Little Miss quiz to someone like Squishmallow, whose products featured in a recent quiz, to tell them their most popular plush toy based on a survey of thousands of users.

Once again, I’m not saying this is happening, just that based on UQuiz’s privacy policy, which doesn’t say anything about what a quiz maker can or cannot do with the data once it is presented to them “in downloadable form”, it definitely could happen.

Sounds like something people should think about before jumping in. This isn’t so different from those Facebook quizzes that parents do to tell them what kind of Wine Mum they are, right?

It’s exactly the same. The only difference is one might assume TikTokers are tech-savvy enough to know better. But I guess personality quizzes are the inevitable evolutionary path all social platforms must go down.

It’s the circle of your online life, which apparently advertisers want to know all about. Importantly, which Little Miss were you?

Little Miss Right to be Forgotten, thanks so much for asking.