Nifty tool enhances your Facebook experience.
All the hoopla surrounding Facebook’s privacy problems has some people wondering if there are viable alternatives to this amazingly popular social networking platform. SayEducate previously reported that Diaspora is in the development stages and should be ready for September launch, but not everyone wants to leave Facebook nor will the world automatically sign up for Diaspora when it does become available.
Fortunately, an open source, browser based security checker called “Reclaim Privacy” has been designed and developed to help you find out if your Facebook privacy has been compromised. By dragging a bookmarklet into your browser bar, you can log on to Facebook, click on the bookmarklet and run the privacy scanner to find out if your privacy has been retained or possibly compromised. The scanner operates entirely within your browser and the Reclaim Privacy people do not see your Facebook data nor do they share personal information about you with others.
Six categories are scanned right above your Facebook toolbar: instant personalization; personal information; contact information; friends, tags and connections; friends sharing information about you without your authorization; and an application blocker.
Reclaim Privacy does not automatically fix problems, leaving that step to Facebook users. You’ll receive a “grade” based on three different outcomes: good (everything is fine), scanning (meaning that information is still being checked), and insecure. Whenever anything shows up as insecure, you can click on the link provided which will take you to the appropriate Facebook page to amend those settings.
Two categories came up as “insecure” when I tested my Facebook privacy. Instant Personalization was flagged but I was able to opt out by unchecking a box next to the following description: “Allow select partners to instantly personalize their features with my public information when I first arrive on their websites.” Keep in mind that Facebook automatically added this feature with the box checked when they made a recent update to their site.
I also unchecked each of the boxes allowing my friends to share various bits of information about me with others (political, religious, hobbies, etc.) That information falls under what Facebook describes as “What your friends can share about you through applications and websites.” I’m okay with my Facebook friends knowing whatever they want about me through my personal uploads and settings, but I don’t necessarily want them to share the same with people I may not know. I unchecked each of those boxes too.
Once you’re through with the scanning and have made your changes, click the “done” button and the drop down scanner disappears.
I’m not part of a campaign to discredit Facebook nor am I urging everyone to dump Facebook when Diaspora launches. However, like so many avid web users, I am concerned about how Facebook behaves and will take whatever steps necessary to ensure my privacy while encouraging you to do likewise.
I believe that a tool such as “Reclaim Privacy” sends a strong message to Facebook: while we love the convenience of your platform, our privacy is of utmost importance. Failing that, Diaspora may eventually emerge as the social media platform of choice for Facebook expats.
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