New app targets pedophiles and criminals on Facebook

University undergraduate students have developed a new privacy solution for Facebook that can help parents adjust their children’s profiles in one click, prevent criminals from garnering valuable personal information and keep teens safe from pedophiles.

The Social Privacy Protector (SPP) “app”, developed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) students, has multiple levels of protection, but the most important component reviews a user’s friends list in seconds to identify which 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,” Michael Fire, a Ph.D. candidate in BGU’s Department of Information Systems Engineering explains, said.

“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.

“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,” Fire said.

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 a Facebook app for all browsers, and as an add-on for Firefox.

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The paper ‘Protecting User’s Privacy in Social Networks’ has been submitted for publication.

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