A new application allows parents to adjust their children’s Facebook profile with one click to prevent unscrupulous access.
Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev believe the application, called The Social Privacy Protector (SPP), will prevent criminals from garnering valuable personal information and keep teens safe from pedophiles.
The SPP software application (or app) provides multiple layers of protection, including the ability to review a user’s friends list to assess if any have few or no mutual links and might be “fake” profiles.
The app analyzes each friend and scores the “connectedness” to every friend. It flags the lowest scores as suspicious and asks whether the friend should be restricted from personal user information, but doesn’t defriend them.
“An important feature of our app is the ability for parents to better protect their kids’ privacy with just one click instead of having to navigate the more complicated Facebook privacy settings,” says Michael Fire.
“While Facebook encourages connecting with as many people as possible, we advocate limiting users, and have, for the first time, provided an algorithm to scientifically determine who to remove from friend lists,” Fire adds.
“Predators rely on people friending anyone, and with teens now allowed to have Facebook accounts, we believe that our solution can provide necessary protection for all users.”
Researchers say the SPP software also notifies the user about other applications installed on a child’s profile that could threaten his or her privacy.
Fire and his colleagues developed the Facebook application and software based on their research on Facebook and social networks in general.
“Social media is an incredible phenomenon, but has significant pitfalls if used haphazardly, especially by teens,” explains Doron Krakow, executive vice president, American Associates, Ben-Gurion of the Negev.
“We’re very proud of the fact that at BGU even undergraduate students have the opportunity to work with top researchers and can devise such an important app that could protect millions of youth.”
The free software is available as a Facebook app for all browsers, and as an add-on for Firefox. The paper has been submitted for publication.