Quora has been a fountain of user knowledge since its release in 2010. Ask Google a question and chances are you’ll find a Quora response on the first page of results. However, after a data breach in 2018, many users have called into question the safety of using the website’s services. Just how secure is Quora, and is it still safe to use?
Quora stands for Question or Answer and was created by former Facebook employees Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever. The purpose of the site is to ask a question, or answer a question, typically posed by other users. The topics discussed vary wildly. Anything from how to poach an egg to how to recognize dating scams can be found on the site.
The biggest issue stems from how anyone can answer a question. Where some respondents might be looking for actual discussion on a topic, others might just want to be disruptive and spread misinformation. Luckily, Quora moderators exist to prune the chaff away, but their reach isn’t wide enough to police every question and answer.
While Quora is primarily a question and answer platform, it’s since expanded to include several social media-lite features. Users have their own activity feed, can post pictures to their profiles, message other users privately, and upvote their favorite questions and answers. To use Quora, the only requirement is to log in with a social media account, Google account, or email address, and that you’re at least 13 years old or older.
This question depends entirely on how someone uses the site. For a responsible adult who can discern fact from obvious fiction, Quora could be a useful knowledge and research tool. For impressionable teenagers, however, it could be as damaging as any other social media platform when used to excess.
When it comes to the safety of users, however, Quora doesn’t have the best of records. In December of 2018, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo announced that 100 million users’ data had been compromised in a data breach. While user passwords were compromised, thankfully a lot of the data was already public knowledge.
The real controversy is with Quora’s seeming lack of care when it comes to its user data. Even though the user data compromised may not give hackers the tools to commit fraud, proper action still needs to be taken to protect users. It took Quora several days after the breach was discovered to report it to users.
To be safe on Quora, you don’t need to do much differently if you already practice good cybersecurity routines. Don’t share too much information about yourself, and don’t share images of where you live or what you look like. Make an effort to recognize the signs of social engineering attacks and learn when an email is an obvious phishing attempt. It’s a lack of knowledge of such details that could potentially endanger younger users and lead to a hacker potentially infecting you with malware.
Until 2021, Quora required users to submit their real name rather than a nickname or pseudonym. Sharing your real name online is a good way to expose yourself to cyberstalking. It wouldn’t take much for someone with bad intentions to find a Quora user on other social media platforms. With teens sharing their full names on the site until 2021, some very easily could have become victims of cyberbullying.
Alongside the obvious cybersecurity issues, Quora doesn’t have any parental filters or safe searches. Young teenagers are exposed to all the internet’s questions, no matter how explicit the topic. It’s important for parents to be aware of what their children access online and to teach their children the dangers of social media and misinformation.
Ultimately, if a teenager is aware of the potential risks and dangers that other people online pose to them, Quora isn’t any more unsafe than any other social media platform or chat forum.
Quora doesn’t allow you to browse questions properly without logging in to an account. Luckily, there’s a workaround. At the url bar, add “?share=1” to the end of the website address. Now, you won’t get the login prompt to continue reading.
If you want to browse topics and ask questions without them leading back to you online (and as long as you don’t use your real name), it might be a good idea to invest in a VPN. With a VPN active, none of your online activity can be snooped on, and your physical IP address will be hidden. NordVPN is the perfect solution to browsing online in peace.