We have become a society intent on not letting Facebook’s privacy settings get the better of us. Thanks to a new browser extension for both Chrome and Firefox, we are a step closer to simplifying our lives.
Get in Control of Your Privacy
With the goal of putting the user in control of their own online privacy, the Privacyfix browser extension scans for privacy issues based on your Facebook and Google settings, the other sites that you visit and the companies tracking you. Privacyfix directs users to the settings they need to fix, and can warn of new privacy issues as you surf the web -- so you'll know when sites like Facebook change their privacy policies or have privacy breaches.
Additionally, your information will not be compromised further by using PrivacyFix -- the application has been engineered not to transmit or share any of your data, including history, cookies or privacy settings. Because all of the ratings and calculations for Privacyfix happen inside the browser, with generic formulas and data being sent from their server, the only data that a browser sends to PrivacyFix's server is standard technical data (like IP addresses), which the company says is promptly deleted.
Tracking the Outcome of Better Privacy Controls
What are the long-term implications of an extension like this? Will users be curious enough to learn about how specific sites are using their information? Upon learning that sites may be collecting more information than users thought, will they be moved to make more educated choices? If they decide not to share information, will companies update their policies?
Of course, it’s too soon to know. Additionally, it’s too soon to know if we can get the right people using these extensions. Three years ago GetSafeOnline.org found that students are more likely to put themselves at risk of online fraud than any other adult demographic in the United Kingdom. Twenty-eight percent admitted to entering personal details into a website from an unsecured computer, over double the national average of 11 percent. Almost one in five students (19 percent) regularly posted valuable personal information, such as their date of birth or home address, on social networking sites, almost double the national average of 11 percent.
Are students likely to install these extensions on their browsers? It will be interesting to see how PrivacyFix markets themselves to this vulnerable demographic. The appeal, in the beginning, will be to those who are already proactive about protecting their privacy online -- so getting this app into the hands of those who can benefit from it most will be most important.