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May 18, 2010

4 tools to help reclaim Facebook privacy

Posted: 03:22 PM ET

To some users and tech writers, it appears Facebook won’t let anything stand in the way of its quest for World Wide Web domination. Maybe not even its users’ privacy.

As most Facebook users already know, the social networking site has yet again updated its privacy settings. And the “guide to privacy on Facebook” can seem more like an encyclopedia than a guide. Some users have become so confused that they've chosen to leave the site entirely.

But, thanks to a few independent tools floating around in cyberspace, it's gotten a bit easier to navigate the maze of Facebook settings. Here are a few tools and websites that caught our attention:

ReclaimPrivacy, a donation-based project, recently launched a tool that scans your Facebook page’s privacy settings. It alerts users when their privacy settings have defaulted to public.

SaveFace, which is free to install, automatically sets users’ settings - contact information, search settings, friends, tags, connections, personal information and posts - to “friends only.”

TinEye is not specifically for privacy conscious Facebook users. However, the reverse image search engine can be useful when looking to see if an image posted on Facebook has made its way across the Web. Simply upload a photo and let TineEye search the Web to see if the image has been used elsewhere.

Finally, there's OpenBook (warning: potentially offensive language), a site that doesn't exactly help you manage your Facebook privacy settings, but it might scare you into wanting to keep your info private. The site lets you search through public status updates. Some really embarrassing stuff shows up.

Know of any tools we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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Sarah   May 18th, 2010 3:49 pm ET

I would prefer that Facebook would address its own privacy issues and not leave it to the users to have to make sure their information is secure. Third parties are helpful, but only a bandaid on the cancer.


Jake   May 18th, 2010 4:00 pm ET

I would prefer if people actually used their brain and think about what they post and share on the internet. This wouldn't even be an issue if some individuals would have a grasp on personal responsibility.


Julie   May 18th, 2010 4:11 pm ET

Well said, Jake.


Sergio Ivan   May 18th, 2010 4:15 pm ET

There is one tool that allows you to see who have visited your profile, I am totally against that because your are not going to be comfortable visiting profiles with that person knowlegde, there are some things that you should not know.


The Game   May 18th, 2010 4:26 pm ET

Join Diaspora when it comes out.


1315horn   May 18th, 2010 4:32 pm ET

You need to check the new social network neighbordog.com. I like the flexibility and safety.


Lauren   May 18th, 2010 4:35 pm ET

People need to take into consideration the content that they post online. Nobody needs to know what you do every second of every day or needs to see the less than flattering pictures of you on spring break with your friends. If someone doesnt want their personal info available for all to see then common sense would dictate to keep it off the internet.


Jewel, MD   May 18th, 2010 5:32 pm ET

I'm not on Facebook, and I hate that the white pages make you pay to have a private number.


Michelle   May 18th, 2010 7:04 pm ET

Are you quitting Facebook? http://bit.ly/8X3Cx1


bailoutsos   May 18th, 2010 7:34 pm ET

If anyone is STUPID enough to put personal info on the internet, then you shall suffer the "slings and arrows" that go along with that decision.


Brad   May 18th, 2010 7:41 pm ET

This is a common sense issue. Folks need to realize that no one makes you put that information up there. Its all a matter of responsibility. You determine what other people see and what Facebook has access to. No one is to blame but the person who enters the information to begin with.


kegill   May 18th, 2010 9:17 pm ET

I just analyzed (more deeply than this) four tools: two of them are not on your list: http://wiredpen.com/2010/05/18/facebook-and-privacy-tools/


paul   May 18th, 2010 10:03 pm ET

There is now an alternative where you don't need to do these things just ot keep your information private.

Check out NeighborDog.com.

All these privacy options are built in. I think it may be facebook's replacement.


Dur Der Dur   May 18th, 2010 10:11 pm ET

Or how about not post things you don't want other people to see?


Jack   May 18th, 2010 10:29 pm ET

FB is the retail price of privacy. If one thinks that opting out of FB is going to save one's privacy skin, your delusional.


Jack II   May 18th, 2010 10:43 pm ET

The problem isn't just limited to what you, yourself, post on the internet, but what others post about you...and what they can link to you. What are people supposed to do, not have any friends? It's more than a personal issue these days, though admittedly, individuals should still be careful of what they post about themselves...


Kayley   May 19th, 2010 2:17 am ET

Okay, I agree with everyone here. It's everyone's fault. 70% the users fault and 30% facebooks fault. People in this country are known for not taking responsibility for their actions, no matter what the situation be, minus a few exceptions.

At first I was angry with facebook since the options of opt-out should be automatic and I still believe that but some of you people make valid points. Now don't get me wrong, I still don't care for facebook since it's rather boring anyway but some of you are right.

Facebook needs to fix their privacy issues, immediately. I understand it's a business thing but I don't want my information blasted all over the internet. Granted I have nothing that's real personal on the internet since i know better than that but still.
To say its only the users fault is like saying when you buy something online and enter your info, it should be blasted all over the internet. Sure you could go to the store and buy the item but sometimes the item isn't available in the store and other times people are just too lazy. The laziness is why half of America is overweight

On the other hand, it is a social network, not an online store or anything of that sort. Some could argue that online stores are suppose to be private and they would be right. So to be honest, comparing it to a store isn't exactly right since a store isn't a social network site.

Bottom line is if you don't want everyone to see it, don't post it. I realize you're desperate for attention, especially females but nobody needs to know every minute of your life. Go out and meet people, get some exercise


Jim H   May 19th, 2010 3:55 am ET

Neither Reclaim Privacy or Save Face work, Following the instructions on saving them to Favorites and then clicking on them with my Facebook home page open generates an internet explorer download error. (using IE8)


Jim H   May 19th, 2010 4:05 am ET

@Jake- I think where the trouble lies is that there are so many innocent looking little applications on Facebook that people don't realize change their initial settings. Hardly anybody reads EULAs anyway because if the print is big enough to read it is written in gibberish that the average person can't make sense out of it anyway. When you get those messages to what your friends think about you in the latest survey they posted about you it's hard to resisit for many to go see. It's the same with the games and quizzes and the silly little activities. They don't make it clear enough waht they are doing by accepting their use. One EULA i read seemed to say that permission was granted to not only access the information, pictures, etc. on the user's page, but also allowed access to and use of pictures on the sites of people on the users friend's list! If I read it correctly, even if I don't use any of those applications and restrict my access, a friend can cause my settings to be over-ridden by accepting the EULA simpley because he/she can view my pictures and read my Wall!! Granted this was some months ago I discovered that and it may have been changed now. Still, it sucks!


Jim H   May 19th, 2010 4:19 am ET

@ Paul No matter how good any such site is or how honest and wanting to do the right thing the people who create it are, success brings interest. That interest brings big money and a buy out by some corporation who sees a way to exploit things for profit. Even something like Diaspora which holds enormous potential is only going to be as secure as it's least ethical or understanding member.

I don't blame people even though it is ultimately they who do put up the stuff. Sites like Facebook are not straightforward enough about what they do with user's information and posting. The bury it in places where it has to be hunted for. They use language average people don't understand. I think people use the site with reasonable expectations of privacy, specially older people and less net savvy users. I worked at a place that closed and out of 1000 employees over half have joined the group on Facebook that was started for it. Many of these people are going online for the first time and are barely able to use their computers or understand even the most basis security measures like firewalls and anti virus programs. They don't even know what privacy settings mean! Everyone I have explained things to have been horrified at the things that can be found about them, especially those with pictures of their grand-kids posted. If facebook and similar sites can't do something so folks like this understand up-front what is involved and what they are sharing and how to control it, they are doing nothing short of running a con game on these people, preying on their lack of understanding. And that is nothing less than criminal!


Regis Toomey   May 19th, 2010 8:26 am ET

Facebook privacy tools, eh? Another way for some bunch of idiots to get rich off of morons that had the ignorance to post their mugs there in the first place....most Americans will sell their grandmother's glass eyeballs to get their two seconds in the limelight...pay the rest of their ignorant lives for posting their pic, name and other ignorant sentiments for the world to ogle...Makes me glad that I will not be around in twenty more years or so to have to observe what goes on here on this planet by then.


Regis Toomey   May 19th, 2010 8:34 am ET

the bell curve of intelligence for this planet has seen an upward curve from the end of the dark ages of the 1300's until about 1950. After that, the curve has been downhill all the way to now where it is still spiraling downward only now at WARP SPEED. Sort of like going into the vortex of a BLACQUE HOLE!!! NO JOKE!!!


Pookiee   May 19th, 2010 9:04 am ET

- if uu dntt wnt all your personal business all outt dere
on facebook ; dhn dnt putt iht . SO SIMPLE !

– Pretty Girl Pookiee <3


Walder Soares Jr.   May 19th, 2010 9:27 am ET

To set your privacys on Facebook you feel like you're going to a scam.


demara   May 19th, 2010 10:03 am ET

It sounds like FB is trying to advertise "everything's okay!" through CNN.


nick   May 19th, 2010 10:29 am ET

Here is the best thing you can do
have NO personal information on facebook at all this includes birth date, city and for god sakes dont put your phone number and email up people come one. Even better dont put a profile pic up marketing companys cant do anything with that


1315horn   May 19th, 2010 11:11 am ET

Neighbordog.com Create your own neighborhood that is safe and flexible.


Franko   May 19th, 2010 12:01 pm ET

No matter the security buttons on the clothes you wear,
The 3 letter boys can see all your privates.


Huskernoxious   May 19th, 2010 12:41 pm ET

It doesn't do what I want it to do. I want to label whether or NOT comments I make on a third party site can be made available to any other site other than the one I made the comments on. This isn't what the privacy settings on Facebook do. CNN made my comments available to Facebook without my approval. The greatest privacy settings is on Facebook is for 'friends only'. That's not private. I don't want to block all content, just what I don't want on Facebook. They don't get it.


jong   May 19th, 2010 2:06 pm ET

People keep talking about how the way to address Facebook's privacy issues is to just not post anything personal on Facebook... well then, what's the point of Facebook? Do they not want us to connect with each other anymore (perhaps they should change their tagline then)? Is the idea to define our "friend" relationships on Facebook to merely sharing at an arms length about generic likes that we have? What kind of relationship building is that?

I think that while these companies and applications that help you wade through your Facebook privacy nightmare is a good first step, at the end of the day, if Facebook does not respect your privacy, then what is the point? It's time to find a Facebook alternative – one that allows people to build relationships with each other through active sharing of personal information without the fears of privacy.

Check out Whsper (http://www.whsper.com). The site is in beta, but according to their privacy policy on their site, you OWN your data. And I can compartmentalize my relationships so that I have complete control over what I share and with whom.


No way   May 19th, 2010 2:22 pm ET

It has nothing to do about what people post on the site, it has everything to do with privacy and that is it. Sure it is our responsibility to make sure that we check the settings and also make sure that we don't post anything you don't want anyone to see but it is more than that. What happens if you copy someone else's words and use them without their permission, is it not called plagiarism? And is that not against the law? What happens if you take a picture of the Nike logo and post it on your own site and use it to help advertise for a product of your own, will you not get in trouble. Is that not also against the law? And when is it not against the law... well usually when the owner of the logo or the words says "Yes, go ahead and use it... But I get a certain percentage of what you make for using it" Are our own words or photos any different than a famous writer or a large company's logo or photographers pictures? No they are not!! What are you ney sayers opinions of the phone companies selling your name and phone numbers (especially if you pay to have it unpublished and unlisted) to other companies so they can send you spam text messages or call you begging for your money or to buy their product? Is that not the same thing? Are you not using someone else's site and equipment to make calls thus giving them permission to do so? What is your opinion about wire tapping? Is that not the same thing also, are you not using a company's site to talk with friends/business partners? So why do you get mad if someone wire taps you? What makes a phone call any different than a post on your own personal Facebook page? Isn't your own page the same as your own phone number, your's and your's only???


Steven Cravis   May 19th, 2010 2:46 pm ET

It's not that big a deal. Facebook is going to make a quick fix for the privacy issues, and will remain the biggest social network site in the world.

http://www.twittermyspacebook.com


Indifferent Observer   May 19th, 2010 4:38 pm ET

It appears as though people think that Facebook's less than stellar privacy management system is some kind of
oversight or accident on the part of Facebook. In reality, the complexity is by design.

Without going too much into the details of the pitfalls of a zero profit model enterprise such as a social networking site,
suffice it to say that Facebook makes its money (through advertising) by the volume of content available to users and outsiders
looking for information. In other words, the more content it has and the more people that can see that content, the more money it makes.

So, if the public is oblivious to privacy issues, Facebook has a *vested interest* in making everything as public as possible. Facebook
wants everyone to be able to see everything about everyone. The only reason for them to revisit this interest is if they start
losing prospective users (and thus revenue) because of bad PR related to privacy concerns.

So, the ideal solution for Facebook is to *appear* to address privacy concerns without actually addressing them. This is the reason
for the convoluted privacy settings. They can say that they're concerned about privacy while still exposing as much content as
possible to as wide an audience as possible (banking on the fact that most users cannot use the privacy settings).

The poor design of the privacy settings is only poor from a user's perspective. From Facebook's perspective, it's exactly
as intended (until the PR backlash becomes great enough to start cutting into the bottom line).


Rolo   May 19th, 2010 4:40 pm ET

It´s important that you don´t put everything about you, yuo should put only your name, it´s enougth


Jewel   May 19th, 2010 5:42 pm ET

If you do not want people to see it – the don't post it!!!! This isn't a Jerry Springer moment!! And if you are smart enough to read between the lines – categorize your friends and family and set the settings...


Leslie B   May 19th, 2010 9:51 pm ET

I understand the theory behind "don't post it if you don't want it seen," but FB wasn't set up to be an internet-wide application, and now they are trying to drag everyone there, most of us kicking and screaming.

Besides, in the most recent official article I saw (FB governance page) that attempted to address this, the guy lied through his teeth and said everything on their site was "opt in." That's pure and obvious B.S. Heck, just this past week they changed half the default settings on my account to "everyone," when I had already had my privacy nailed down to "friends only" or less, and anyone who has been paying attention knows this "instant personalization" carp has already been forced on everyone. You have to go various places to opt out and block apps to get rid of that.

If they don't change their invasion of privacy policies soon, I'm out of there. Too bad, I enjoyed being able to check in with family and friends. I didn't, however, volunteer to tell people what I was looking at on CNN - and I don't care to have thrown at me what my friends are viewing, either.


Michael   May 19th, 2010 10:22 pm ET

Not sure what the big deal is about all this. Facebook have controls over all information people have in their profile. If people would understand that they can easily control what others see, but that's the problem. It takes two seconds to go into the privacy settings and set them. Just do it and quit complaining. It's up to everyone to set it, not for facebook to do it for everyone!


Shawn   May 20th, 2010 2:00 am ET

When Facebook opened to my college in 2005 it was a great social tool and extremely fun. More and more people got on it and it was a great way to share pictures and info on parties between students. It was also a great way to keep in touch with other students I met that went to other colleges.

Unfortunately that time is over and Facebook is increasingly becoming a liability for the original users. Now everyone is on Facebook – our parents, our employers, our middle school age cousins, our drug dealing neighbors. All of whom I certainly don't want knowing aspects of my life from my days in college, not that I was doing anything particularly bad, just that there are pictures of me and friends goofing around at parties and at the bar, etc.

I feel myself moving away from Facebook because it is increasingly irrelevant to post-college life and is a steadily growing liability.


Felix   May 20th, 2010 6:12 am ET

I think Microsoft should buy facebook and sheep it with Microsoft office applications.That can give a grip to privacy concerns,wouldn't it?

Anyway a time for Office Facebook has long come, email apps are a thing of the past....

Office facebook is such an all in one Office app, with an unlimted potential to connect the universe


mamajuice   May 20th, 2010 9:53 am ET

For all of you who say that we should just suck it up because the internet isn't private, I say: but it should be. People who want to use the internet as a communication tool to provide a service and make money in the process should be held to standards that ensure their users' privacy.

In case you haven't noticed, we don't have party-line telephones anymore. Why? Because we didn't want all our private conversations with personal contacts to be made public. If AT&T suddenly told you that all your phone conversations would be made public to all other telephone users in the world, unless you navigated a complex and ever-changing opt-out system, you'd be outraged. This is no different. The internet is a communication tool, just like telephone wires, and those who harness it to make money should be held accountable for responsible oversight of their service. Period.

I don't post anything embarrassing or self-incriminating, and there is no personal information in my profile. That doesn't mean that I want communication among friends I have consciously chosen to be public to others. If I want to post something to friends I have chosen without my sister-in-law seeing it, who is Facebook to tell me I have to let her see it? I have interests, which I would love to share in my profile with, again, friends I have consciously chosen. But just because I like yoga doesn't mean I want to link that interest to public folders - I don't give a rat's patootie about what thousands of strangers who also happen to like yoga have to say. For those who feel differently, great, let's give them a chance to opt in. But quit forcing me to do the same.


KM   May 20th, 2010 11:07 am ET

I fully understand the approach to not posting anything you don't want seen by the internet, but it goes beyond that. While I can control what I post of myself, I have no control over what others have posted. I desperately want to delete my facebook account, but I have to keep it purely to monitor what others have posted of me. It's absurd.

Not everyone you meet and know turns out to be a kind or caring person.


Ned   May 20th, 2010 2:45 pm ET

If you feel that facebook should fix your own privacy concerns, you should leave the internet. Like anything in life, it's up to you how you present yourself. Learn what needs to be learned. Research and explore and find your own answers. If your page is hacked because you have weak security questions, again, you shouldn't be online.

This is exactly the same as walking to your car late at night in a 'bad' neighborhood – there are things you can learn to do to help keep yourself safe. If you can't handle that, then don't walk through the parking lot, or put yourself on Facebook.


Bradley   May 20th, 2010 4:03 pm ET

Facebook presents an easy way for a person to create a personal website, then share that website with others. Almost every privacy complaint I've heard about Facebook would be the exact same mistake managing their info that person would make were they hosting their own self-created website. I'm only on Facebook because most of my friends are, so I'm a far cry from a Facebook champion. However, people mismanaging their personal information on the internet falls on deaf ears with me. Facebook gave you an easy way to create a personal website. It's up to you to populate it appropriately.


ginsu   May 20th, 2010 7:40 pm ET

Here's another -

http://onebuttonrule.com/

Changes your settings to "Friends Only" and keeps them there. For Firefox and Chrome users, works more reliably than any of the other tools so far – gets to *all* settings, works *automatically* to react to Facebook's changes.


Shanel Zaverl   May 4th, 2013 2:10 am ET

Facebook is an online social networking service, whose name stems from the colloquial name for the book given to students at the start of the academic year by some university administrations in the United States to help students get to know each other.^-

Bye for now
<http://healthmedicinentral.com


In home Personal training Long Island   December 7th, 2013 1:13 pm ET

I'm not a fan of any of these apps. If i had to pick one i would pick
SaveFace, Because they app automatically sets users’ settings – contact information, search settings, friends, tags, connections, personal
information and posts – to “friends only.” Which is great if you have young children using Facebook.


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