Facebook App Shields Kids from 'Friendly' Predators
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
July 06 2012 05:33 PM ET
CREDIT: Shutterstock: Amma Cat
One of the first rules for Facebook safety is, don't accept friend requests from strangers, but not everyone can resist increasing their friend counts with people they don't know.
Students at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel have created a new app called the Social Privacy Protector that can uncover fake profiles, a cover for people with bad intentions.
"Predators rely on people friending anyone," Michael Fire, one of the students, said in a statement. "We have provided an algorithm to scientifically determine who to remove from friend lists."
When activated, the app, known as SPP for short, reviews a user's friends list in seconds to identify which have few or no mutual links and therefore might be fake profiles. The app scores the "connectedness" to Facebook friends and flags the lowest scores as suspicious. (Then again, the profile in question could be authentic — maybe a bit of a loner?) Users can decide to block these people from seeing their information but the app doesn't unfriend them. [Top Facebook Privacy Tweaks: How to Unfriend, Delete and Untag]
The idea is to give people protection without making them wade through Facebook's often-cumbersome privacy settings, Fire said. It's useful for parents with kids on Facebook, as well as for anyone who may have broken the no-strangers rule.
The SPP also notifies the user about the applications installed on their profile that could threaten his or her privacy. The free software is available as an add-on for Firefox and should soon be available for other browsers.