By Sarah Jacobsson Purewal
McAfee has announced a new tool for Facebook users called McAfee Social Protection. This Facebook app, which will be available as a free public beta at the end of August, allows users to share protected photos with select friends–and only those select friends.
The concept behind the tool is pretty simple: While you can put privacy settings into place to keep strangers from stumbling across your photos on your Facebook page, there’s no way to keep your Facebook friends from, well, sharing your photos wherever they want to.
For example, if you post an incriminating (take that how you will) photo on Facebook and one of your friends teasingly shares it on their wall, then other people could see it. Likewise, if your friend downloads that photo and their computer or email account is hacked, your photo could fall into the wrong hands.
McAfee Social Protection seeks to solve this problem by giving Facebook users a secure platform through which they can upload and share photos without having to worry about people downloading them, copying them, or otherwise sharing them with others.
McAfee Social Protection AppMcAfee demonstrated the new app at its Santa Clara office Thursday afternoon. After a quick download and installation of a special photo viewer, users are able to upload, share, and view photos on the secure platform. Photos are encrypted so they cannot be copied, printed, or have screenshots taken of them, and only the friends you invite to see them are able to see them–all others see blurry renditions of your photos. The photos are not hosted on Facebook’s servers, but on a secured Intel server.
Basically, this app helps ensure that your photos don’t fall into the wrong hands, even inadvertently. Since your friends cannot save or download your photos, even if their accounts or devices are compromised, your photos are safe.
That said, it’s not foolproof–obviously, if someone was really out to get that photo, there are workarounds (for example, you could just take a physical picture with a separate camera of the screen). But the app does present a stumbling block to the easy, one-click sharing that can sometimes make compromising photos go viral.
What your friends will see in their newsfeedsWhile the Social Protection app won’t be able to stop truly malicious people from stealing your photos, it is a step in the right direction when it comes to helping people get a handle on their personal data. Not only will people be able to know exactly who is seeing their photos, but they’ll also be able to pull compromising photos from the Web without having to really worry about whether those photos have been copied and pasted elsewhere.
Of course, in order for Social Protection to work, people actually have to use it. It’s not quite as simple as uploading photos directly to Facebook–and McAfee hasn’t mentioned whether there will be a mobile component to the app–but the extra step might just be worth the extra protection.