If social networks were more honest about privacy, this tool wouldn’t exist

The Israeli software firm CallingID is best known for its LinkAdvisor safe browsing tool, which has been integrated into antivirus products such as Avira, but as of late 2013 it’s also offered a tool with the rather unwieldy name of My Face Privacy.
My Face Privacy manages the privacy settings of social networks on behalf of the user. It works with Facebook(s fb), Twitter(s twtr) and LinkedIn(s lnkd), and on Wednesday CallingID revealed Google+(s goog) integration as well. Instagram is next on the agenda, CallingID executive vice president Yair Nissan told me.
“Social networks are trying to make as much of your information visible to as many groups as they can,” Nissan said. “They have a default set of privacy policies which is not restrictive at all. They’ve complicated the way that you can change and manage your privacy settings – you have to go through many screens and, unless you’re an expert, you probably won’t find all the different parameters because they’re hiding them very well.”
Personally, I find this to be particularly true of Facebook, which is forever changing its privacy settings in a way I can only describe as deliberately obfuscatory. Something like My Face Privacy should really not exist, but for the average user it could prove valuable.
My Face Privacy is a desktop-only application that’s somewhat analogous to a local password manager — it saves the user’s credentials to the machine where it’s installed, rather than transferring them to CallingID’s systems. Being a desktop app rather than an in-Facebook app also gives the service deeper access to the social network’s privacy settings, Nissan said.
Once users have plugged My Face Privacy into their social network account, they can choose a basic mode — which offers four preset levels of defined privacy – or dive into advanced settings. They can back up their settings as policies that they can roll back to if needed, and that can even be passed around friends.
As with LinkAdvisor, My Face Privacy is available as a free standalone product or — once contracts get announced — bundled into other security suites. Those downloading the standalone version will be invited to switch to CallingID’s own safe search product, though they can keep their existing search provider if they choose.