Sharing posts and funny pictures with friends via social media can be a lot of fun, but it can also entail risks to your privacy and security. Of course, all you need to do is configure dozens of settings correctly for each social network you use. Too complicated? The free MyFacePrivacy tool will do the job for you.
MyFacePrivacy will currently help you configure Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn for the privacy level you want. You can track more than one account of each type, including your children’s accounts. And the FAQ promises that any future changes to privacy settings will be implemented automatically.
The application is free, so all you need do is download and install it. At first launch, it will ask whether you’ll be using its services just for yourself, or for you and your child. If you choose the latter, it changes a few configuration settings. You’re not locked in to your answer; you can tweak those settings later.
Do pay attention during installation. If you accept all defaults, the installer will change your search provider and home page to “Multi Search, powered by the top search engines,” and it will do so in all your browsers. Piggybacking a toolbar or search engine is common practice for free products—it gets the vendor a little revenue each time a user accepts.
You do need to give the app access to each of your social networking accounts, typically starting with Facebook. I found that it took a while to make the initial connection and collect my security settings. After that, it offered me a choice of privacy levels, each with a clear description.
The recommended privacy level says that you’ll “share posts, pictures, interests, and videos with all my friends and personal information only with close friends.” That sounds about right. Maximum privacy means you’ll share only with close friends, while minimal privacy lets you “share all my posts with all Facebook users while protecting me from identity theft.” Finally, the unrestricted mode lets everybody see everything; probably a bad idea.
You can just apply one of the privacy levels and call yourself done, if you like. Clicking the Advanced button gives you an extremely fine-grained view of just what settings the product will make. If you’re really an expert, you can fine-tune these; most people shouldn’t.
Setting up privacy for Google+ is a very similar process. In fact, it’s so similar that the privacy level dialog accidentally mentions Facebook instead of Google+. For Twitter and LinkedIn, there are just two levels, maximum privacy and minimum privacy. All three also offer an advanced editing mode to fine-tune your settings.
Got more than one account on any of these networks? That’s not a problem. Add as many as you want.
When you return to an account that you’ve already configured, the advanced settings dialog gets a new and interesting feature. It now compares your current settings with the settings of whichever privacy level is selected and uses color-coding to indicate differences. Red means your current setting is more restrictive than the specified privacy level, blue means it’s less restrictive, and green means they’re the same. I found this fascinating, but if you don’t, you needn’t bother with it.
In order to track a child’s social networking account with MyFacePrivacy, you need to either have access to the child’s login credentials or get the child to log in. The product’s FAQ points out that children 13 or older have the right to withhold that password.
Once the product is configured to ensure your child’s privacy, it will check every day to make sure settings haven’t changed. If they have, you’ll get a notification and, by default, MyFacePrivacy will undo the changes. You can set up this kind of tracking and notification for any account, not just a child’s account.
MinorMonitor, secure.me, SocialShield, and most social media tracking tools require buy-in from your child, because they rely on a Facebook app to gather information. A child who doesn’t want to be monitored can simply turn off the app.
MyFacePrivacy is a bit different. In order to get your current privacy settings and change them to recommended settings, it effectively logs in as you, with your username and password. There’s no app to disable, but your child could still withdraw from monitoring by changing to a new password and keeping it secret from you.
Alert readers may be worrying just a bit. Yes, in order to use MyFacePrivacy you must give it the username and password for each of your social media accounts. A malefactor obtaining that information could do absolutely anything to your social media account. I’m not worried about CallingID going rogue, though. The company has been around for ten years and has a good reputation.
Sharing and Competition
Of course CallingID would love to have you share the fact that you’re using their product. Most of the dialogs have a share button—but only for Facebook. You’ll have to share manually via other media.
In addition, if you work up your own custom privacy configuration for one of the networks, you can export it and share with other users. Just click the Manage Settings button at the bottom left of the dialog where you created those customized settings.
There aren’t very many other products specifically designed to configure your social media privacy settings, though some parental tracking products include this feature. AVG PrivacyFix manages Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, but it simply offers advice, leaving you to make any necessary changes. The FAQ notes that MyFacePrivacy tracks more individual parameters for Facebook and Google+ than MySpace does.
In my own experience, MyFacePrivacy is extremely easy to use, and doesn’t need any attention after the initial setup process. If you’re paranoid about giving it your social media passwords, you could simply change them after running it and then uninstall the utility. Me, I’m not worried, and I’m pleased to have my privacy settings corrected by the experts.
|Tech Support||Web ticket, Facebook, forums|
|OS Compatibility||Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8|
|Type||Business, Personal, Enterprise, Professional|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc