McAfee Facebook Tool Protects Users' Photos

The McAfee Social Protection plug-in, developed with Intel, lets Facebook users decide which friends can see photos, which can be copied, printed or shared.

McAfee and parent company Intel are teaming up to create an app that will help Facebook users to better protect photos they put on their pages, ensuring that they can be seen only by specially selected friends.

Essentially, the app, called McAfee Social Protection, will act as a digital rights management (DRM) tool for Facebook users€™ photos, according to media reports following a demonstration Aug. 2 at McAfee€™s Santa Clara, Calif., headquarters.

McAfee Social Protection, which will be available as a free public beta this fall, will come as a browser plug-in. Once available, users will be able to download and install it on systems running Internet Explorer 8 or higher, Firefox 8 and higher and Google Chrome for PCs. Versions for Apple€™s iOS and Mac OS X operating system, and Google€™s Android, reportedly will be coming out later in the year.

McAfee€™s plug-in will add another layer of security and control for users of the privacy-challenged social network.

The tool creates a secure platform through which Facebook users can post, share and view photos. The posted photos are blurred by the app, and only those friends who have been invited to view the photos can do so. In addition, those friends will not be able to copy, print or share the photos, which are encrypted, according to reports. Those people not invited to view the photos will only see a blurred version of the photos when they click on them.

Friends who are selected to see them also will have to download the McAfee Social Protection plug-in to view the photos.

The McAfee Social Protection tool is an added layer of protection for Facebook users beyond the usual privacy settings they can put in place, which cannot protect photos that are put onto a page. Currently, friends can view the photos that are posted, and can copy and share them as they like. With the new app€”because the photos can€™t be copied or downloaded€”Facebook users will have greater control of the photos, and won€™t risk those photos falling into the wrong hands if friends€™ computers are hacked or mobile devices stolen.

It might not be foolproof, but it will make photos much more secure than they are now, according to McAfee officials.

Brian Foster, senior vice president of consumer product management for McAfee, told Cnet that the company was putting the McAfee Social Protection tool out as a free public beta in hopes of getting user feedback. Where it goes after that is still unclear. McAfee could change how it works based on that feedback, and may consider charging for it later.