Facebook Privacy Fix: New Tool Finds Trouble Spots
If Facebook's ever-more-complex privacy settings leave you scratching your head, try this new tool that simplifies it with one click.
By Kristin Burnham
About a week ago, as frustration with Facebook and its privacy settings reached its pinnacle, Matt Pizzimenti, a software engineer and cofounder of Olark.com, launched ReclaimPrivacy.org, a site that scans your Facebook settings and warns you of what information you’re exposing to the public.
“I felt that [Facebook’s] navigation was too complicated to explain to my less-technical friends and family, so I built this tool to help them quickly see their privacy settings and change them,” Pizzimenti says.
Using the add-on is easy. Visit ReclaimPrivacy.org and drag the “Scan for Privacy” link to your browser’s bookmarks bar. Then, log onto your Facebook account and visit your privacy settings. Click the bookmark, and the add-on will begin scanning your privacy settings.
The scan checks eight security settings, including those for your photos, personal information, applications, status updates and contact information. When the scan is complete, you’ll see which of your settings are secure, which are insecure and how to alter them for more privacy.
After a scan of my Facebook privacy settings, the add-on found that most were secure, allowing only friends access to most parts of my profile. The scan did, however, find that I had not yet opted-out of Facebook’s latest change—the instant personalization feature. Clicking the “Opt-out of Instant personalization” button did not seem to change my setting, but alerted me, nonetheless, that I should revisit it.
“I hope [Facebook users] become aware of what they are exposing on the Internet,” says Pizzimenti. “I hope they can use this tool to lock down the privacy settings to something they can be more comfortable with.”
Staff Writer Kristin Burnham covers consumer Web and social technologies for CIO.com. She writes frequently on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. You can follow her on Twitter: @kmburnham.