IBM develops Facebook privacy application

A new IBM application for Facebook's buy-sell forum guides users toward strong privacy settings and could be developed into a broader privacy control tool.

IBM on Thursday unveiled an application that guides users toward strong privacy settings in Facebook's online marketplace and could be developed into a management tool for companies or across Web sites for users.

The application, called Privacy-aware MarketPlace, shows users in Facebook's buying and selling forum how their privacy settings rate compared to a recommended level and lets them make suggested changes. It shows two scales that compare the user's privacy rating with the recommended score.

The version in Facebook Marketplace is the application's first and will be used to collect data about user privacy preferences, IBM researcher Michael Maximilien told reporters at a research demonstration. That data could be used to tweak the recommended privacy settings in the application and to develop it for use on new Web sites or other parts of Facebook, including user profiles.

The application could eventually let users align their privacy settings to one level across all Web sites where they share information, Maximilien said. Businesses could also use future versions to control how much information they share with different clients, he said.

IBM staff at the event also demonstrated the CoScripter Firefox plugin, which lets users record or stream video of themselves performing a task on a computer screen. A second Firefox plugin on display, called Highlight, lets users save reduced versions of Web sites and access them later through mobile devices.

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Owen Fletcher

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