Researchers develop new Facebook app to detect pedophiles and criminals

July 6, 2012

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) undergraduate students have developed a new privacy solution for Facebook. The Social Privacy Protector (SPP) can help parents adjust their children's profiles in one click, prevent criminals from garnering valuable personal information and keep teens safe from pedophiles.

The SPP "app" has multiple levels of protection, but 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. The app analyzes each friend and scores the "connectedness" to every friend. It flags the lowest scores as suspicious and asks whether the friend should be restricted from personal user information, but doesn't defriend them.

"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 ," Michael Fire, a Ph.D. candidate in BGU's Department of Information Systems Engineering explains.

"While Facebook encourages connecting with as many people as possible, we advocate limiting users, and have, for the first time, provided an to scientifically determine who to remove from friend lists," Fire adds. "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 SPP also notifies the user about the applications installed on their profile that could threaten his or her privacy.

Fire, working with Prof. Yuval Elovici and undergraduate students Dima Kagan and Aviad Elishar of BGU's Telekom Innovation Laboratories and Information Systems Engineering Department, developed the Facebook application and software based on their research on Facebook and social networks in general. The app was part of a final project for Kagan's and Elishar's bachelor's degrees.

"Social media is an incredible phenomenon, but has significant pitfalls if used haphazardly, especially by teens," explains Doron Krakow, executive vice president, American Associates, Ben-Gurion of the Negev (AABGU). "We're very proud of the fact that at BGU even undergraduate students have the opportunity to work with top researchers and can devise such an important app that could protect millions of youth."

The free software is available as a Facebook for all browsers, and as an add-on for Firefox. The paper has been submitted for publication.

Explore further: Facebook launches 'permissions' for apps, websites

Related Stories

New mobile app, ShoeBox, helps scan old photos

November 2, 2011

(AP) -- A new smartphone app will help you transition your old paper photos into the digital age. Called ShoeBox, the free app lets you use your iPhone's camera as a photo scanner.

Facebook signs apps privacy agreement

June 22, 2012

(AP) — Facebook became the seventh company to agree to give people advance warning if its mobile applications pull personal information from mobile phones and tablet computers.

Recommended for you

Record for fastest data rate set

February 11, 2016

A new record for the fastest ever data rate for digital information has been set by UCL researchers in the Optical Networks Group. They achieved a rate of 1.125 Tb/s as part of research on the capacity limits of optical transmission ...

GPS tracking down to the centimeter

February 11, 2016

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a new, more computationally efficient way to process data from the Global Positioning System (GPS), to enhance location accuracy from the meter-level down ...

Twitter lets hot tweets rise to top of timelines

February 10, 2016

Twitter revamped its timeline Wednesday, allowing the "best" tweets to rise to the top, despite warnings of a revolt from members loyal to the real-time flow of the messaging platform.

Math reveals unseen worlds of Star Wars

February 10, 2016

Using a new computer program, EPFL researchers offer unusual insight into the universe of Star Wars, which includes more than 20,000 characters spread among 640 communities over a period of 36,000 years.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.