More and more of us are getting comfortable sharing our real-world identities online, but the tools for helping us maintain our online privacy and security are still catching up to our behavior. Witness the porn-and-violence spam links attack that caused many users to accidentally share and see nasty images in their news feeds.
German company Secure.me has a solution, that it has recently launched to the world: an online service that analyzes your Facebook profile for any data that’s putting your privacy at risk.
It’s not the only service out there. Some others include Friend Checker, Minor Monitor and SocialShield (the latter two being designed primarily for parents watching their kids). But Secure.me is interesting for a couple reasons. One is the ease of use, and the other is the dual individual and parent focus.
First, the interface does a nice job of mimicking high-end virus protection software — you can see scores and analysis happening in front of you in a reassuring dashboard format. You start out simply by connecting with Facebook. The site will then automatically begin scanning your Facebook profile to identify any potential risks. Sections on the site’s left-hand navigation bar include a summary of all risks, analyses of your photos and activities, as well as sections on your profile, network and overall privacy.
The last three sections each include their own scores. Your privacy analysis is scored based on how much information you share in your information section, and it’s pretty aggressive. For instance, including your sexual orientation or political beliefs will result in a lower score than if you don’t (you never know how people might use that information against you).
Your profile analysis shows a score for the mood of posts from friends and apps that you’re mentioned in, presumably based on keyword sentiment analysis. The point is apparently to help show if conversations you’re in are getting out of control. There’s also a tag cloud of trending topics to help you get a sense for what others are talking about.
The network analysis shows posts from friends and people in your network, and featuring anything that includes potentially offensive words, from “sex” and “idiot” to more serious swear words. The company will also warn you if there’s a particularly dangerous link being shared by your friends, like for the porn and graphic violence that hit Facebook several weeks ago. This section also has a mood bar to show how your friends seem to be feeling.
Some extra features help the service stand out, including a tool that analyzes photos from your friends and network to identify any photos of you that you aren’t already tagged in. The parent feature works similarly to SocialShield and other competitors. You, the parent, email your child an invite link, and they sign in with Facebook and let you see what they’re sharing.
In my experience testing Secure.me, I didn’t find anything shockingly revealing. I was aware of every potential security risk that the service found for me. It didn’t find any crazy untagged photos of me, either. Maybe the boring results are simply because I’m pretty aware of how I use Facebook already? Or because I’m not that actively sharing and discussing content with people?
Secure.me got its start in Germany back in 2007, building an all-purpose tool called Ruﬂotse, which lets users to track themselves across the web and in social networks. Whether because Facebook has gotten big in Germany or because Germans are especially sensitive around privacy, the Facebook analysis became an especially popular feature. The original company has its headquarters and 50,000 paying users in Europe. The international focus, which includes the “Secure.me” name, and the Facebook focus, also includes an office expansion — it’s just set up shop in San Francisco as well.
Going forward, the plan is to start charging users for access to premium features, cofounder and CTO Christian Sigl tells me. These features include automatic analysis of your profile every day, the photo matching tech, extended data storage (7 days for free, 90 for paid), and multi-person access intended for parents. The site is available as a free trial now but look for the subscription request to come at the beginning of the year.