Privacy Policy Review: Quora -Room for Improvement?

Presearch Privacy Reviews is a series dedicated to reviewing the privacy of all the biggest
tech companies. We hope to give you the information you need to enhance your own privacy
and make educated decisions that companies would rather you avoid.

This episode of Presearch Privacy Review looks at the question-and-answer website Quora, known for its elaborate and lengthy blog post-like answers.

Privacy expert Dylan Curran is a big fan of Quora, and after he gets through the pronunciation of Quora’s name he gets into examining their privacy policy with impartiality.

“The only result you get when you search for a ‘Quora data breach’,” Curran starts off, “Is someone literally answering a question on Quora about what a data breach is. They haven’t had any controversies to date and all in all, I would be quite surprised if they were over-exploitative of user information. That being said, they do operate a similar business model to other large tech companies so I retain the right to be surprised.”

Presearch Privacy Review #18: Quora

THE INFORMATION WE COLLECT

Quora collects a variety of information ‘directly from individuals, from third parties, and automatically through the Quora platform’, such as:

Your name and contact information;

Other information you provide, such as topics you know about or find interesting and the information you list as credentials (this is voluntary).

They also collect and store information and content that you post to the Quora platform, including:

Your questions, answers, photos and comments;

Unless you have posted certain content anonymously, your content, date and time stamps, and all associated comments are publicly viewable on the Quora Platform, along with your name.

Quora also collects:

Your communications, such as e-mail, phone, or anything otherwise done through the Quora platform;

Integrated Service Provider information, such as when you connect a linked network such as Facebook, Google or Twitter. Quora will receive certain information from these networks when you do this;

Automatically collected information through cookies, log files, pixel tags, local storage objects, and other tracking technologies. These collect information about your activities, such as your searches, page views, date and time of your visit. Information about your computer or mobile device is also collected, including things such as your browser type, type of computer or mobile device, browser language, IP address, mobile carrier, unique device identifier, location, and referring URLs.

“While this does seem like a crazy amount of information, it’s actually entire standard and nothing in particular to worry about,” Curran summarizes. “What I would take into consideration is that Quora functions perfectly whether or not you reveal your identity, so if you’re going to be asking…embarrassing questions or answers or you just don’t want anything at all associated with your identity, I would refrain from using your real name or e-mail as that information is going to get stored.” Good advice for this website as well as general internet Good Practices.

HOW WE SHARE YOUR INFORMATION

Quora gets your consent and shares information as set forth here:

Service Providers, Quora may share your information with third party service providers who use this information to perform services, such as payment processors, auditors and customer service providers;

Affiliates, information collected about you may be accessed or shared with subsidiaries or affiliates of Quora;

Legally required, Quora may disclose information if required to do so by the law;

Content and activity, your content is available for other users of the Quora platform and may be viewed publicly;

Anonymized and aggregated data, we may share aggregated or de-identified information with third parties for research, marketing, analytics or other purposes.

“From what I can see here, Quora is sharing information in all the standard ways you’d expect, and while it’s not eventful, and even quite dull, there’s really nothing here to raise alarm.”

It’s always nice when a privacy expert feels good about a website’s privacy policy. Gives us a nice, warm feeling on the inside ;) Curran then follows up that feeling, with this general warning:

“The only thing that concerns me is the lacking privacy settings, Quora offers incredibly minimalistic settings focusing on your privacy within the site itself concerning other users, rather than your privacy concerning Quora itself.

There really should be more options on what Quora can and cannot store about you, with only a setting to prevent search engines from indexing your name. Which is still good I guess, but still, they could do much, much better.”

THE VERDICT

“In my opinion Quora doesn’t present anything outwardly alarming, they collect the information you expect, they use the information in the ways you expect, and they share it with exactly who you expect. Where they lose a point in my books is that they offer weak privacy settings, but I guess the types of information they collect isn’t all that concerning to the average individual. For these reasons, I give them a 4/5 star rating.”

Quora receives 4/5 stars from privacy expert Dylan Curran

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