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The free secure.me service analyzes your Facebook profile and reports on any problems it finds, including too-public information and negative or harmful posts by your or your friends.
(4 out of 5)
- Analyzes your Facebook profile and reports on harmful or negative posts by you or your friends
- Identifies personal information that should be private
- Biometric face recognition flags photos of you even if you’re not tagged
- Can send a weekly notification of activity
- Daily and immediate notifications not yet available
- Granular control of notifications not yet available
- Doesn’t check child profiles for dangerous friends.
You’ve heard about the folks who lost their jobs because of a too-public, too-negative post (or simply, “because of oversharing”) on Facebook. Are you perfectly sure the same couldn’t happen to you? The secure.me app (free) will comb through your Facebook account and help you fix any problems. You can also use it for parental monitoring of your child’s Facebook activity.
Getting started with secure.me is a snap. Just visit www.secure.me, sign in with your Facebook account, and install the secure.me app. Click the Scan now button, wait a few minutes, and you’ve got immediate insight into your profile. Secure.me can only get the most recent seven days from Facebook, but if you turn on automatic monitoring it can capture new activity in real time and retain it for up to 90 days.
Once the initial scan is complete, secure.me displays an overview, starting with a graph of scanned posts for the last seven, 30, or 90 days. Below this it summarizes its analysis of privacy issues as well as the state of your profile and your network. Each of these three topics gets a rating up to 10 points, with 10 being the best.
The Privacy Analysis page lists personal information found in your profile that could potentially be a threat to privacy. For myself, I’m not concerned that people can see my made-up political and religious affiliations, but it’s reasonable for secure.me to suggest that I “think about whether this information will be useful or harmful.” Marital status and family connections are among the other items that secure.me warns should be protected.
SafetyWeb ($100/year direct, 4 stars) also does privacy analysis, but with a different focus. It scans the Web to find accounts on over sixty social media sites, then reports on what information is public. The aim is to help you (or your child) make that public content private.
On the Profile Analysis page you can check for questionable status updates and posts. This page also rates the overall mood of your profile, from negative to positive, and offers advice on improving a negative profile. A word cloud identifies trending topics in your posts, and a simple pie chart breaks down your posts into those you made yourself, posts by others, and posts made through apps (including mobile Facebook apps).
You may have exemplary Facebook manners and a perfectly positive profile, but what about your friends? The Network Analysis page identifies questionable posts by others. In my own profile I found a number of dangerous links posted by friends as well as posts with what secure.me considers bad language. A similar feature in MinorMonitor (free, 4 stars) specifically flags individuals who regularly express negative sentiments.
MinorMonitor and SafetyWeb flag a huge range of words and phrases as negative. Secure.me seems to stick with undeniable bad language.
Biometric Face Recognition
Secure.me records all of your photos and all recent photos uploaded by friends. Yes, you could view the same thing by logging in to your profile, but secure.me can find you in photos even when you weren’t tagged by using biometric face recognition.
When you enable biometric face recognition, secure.me displays photos in which you’re tagged. It highlights found faces in each and asks which one is your face. You can also upload photos to help with identification; these photos aren’t posted on Facebook, just analyzed.
Now if your friends post photos of you but don’t tag you, secure.me can still flag the photos for your attention.
Parental Control and Monitoring
The Activities page in secure.me’s report lists and categorizes all recent activity, which doesn’t really give you any information you couldn’t see just by logging in to your profile. This page is most useful when you’re using secure.me to monitor your child’s Facebook profile. If the profile or network analysis page reveals a problematic post, you can check the full activity log for context.
As with almost all solutions for monitoring a child’s Facebook activity, secure.me requires cooperation. Your child must accept the secure.me app and refrain from disabling it.
MinorMonitor and SocialShield ($96/year direct, 4.5 stars) also display problem posts separately from the full conversation, but they include the option to jump from a problem post directly to the same post in context in the full activity list. SocialShield actually aggregates activity from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Google+, and FormSpring.
One thing secure.me doesn’t do is look for problematic friends. That makes sense, given that its main focus is protecting your own profile. MinorMonitor, ZoneAlarm SocialGuard ($19.99 direct for five licenses, 4 stars), and SocialShield report on friends that may be inappropriate due to age difference, lack of friends in common, or other factors. ZoneAlarm differs somewhat from the rest in that it runs on the parent’s PC, not in the cloud.
Secure.me can send you an email notification any time it detects a new threat on your (or your child’s) Facebook profile. It’s set to deliver a weekly report by default. You can turn it off, but if you select a daily report or immediate notification, it snaps back to weekly. Secure.me CEO Mario Grobholtz verified that this feature isn’t entirely functional as yet.
When secure.me does roll out the completed notification feature you’ll also be able to choose individual settings for different types of events including tagged photos, harmful links, and content harmful to minors. MinorMonitor, SocialShield, SafetyWeb, and uKnowKids ($9.95/month direct, 4 stars) will all send notifications on detecting a risky Facebook event, some immediately, some on a daily schedule.
Grobholz explained that going forward the company will offer additional features in a premium edition, for users who want to go beyond basic Facebook profile protection. He also pointed out that the service is also useful for businesses that maintain a Facebook page.
If you use Facebook at all, I suggest you run secure.me on your own profile, or your business’s. You may be surprised at what it turns up. On the other hand, if your aim is to monitor your child’s social media activity, Editors’ Choice SocialShield or the free MinorMonitor will probably be a better choice.
By Neil J. Rubenking, PCMag