App helps protect teens on Facebook

July 6, 2012 at 3:18 PM
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NEW YORK, July 6 (UPI) -- A new Facebook app can keep teens safe from pedophiles and prevent criminals from garnering valuable personal information about them, Israeli researchers say.

The Social Privacy Protector developed at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev can help parents adjust their children's profiles in one click to offer multiple levels of protection, a release said Friday.

"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," researcher Michael Fire said.

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, researchers said.

The app analyzes each friend and scores the "connectedness" to every friend, flagging the lowest scores as suspicious and asking whether the friend should be restricted from personal user information, but doesn't defriend them.

"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," Fire said.

"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."

The free software is available as a Facebook app for all browsers and as an add-on for Firefox.

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