Software can ‘identify online predators’

Researchers have developed a free software app that they say can help detect pedophiles and criminals online.

The Social Privacy Protector (SPP), created by students at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), is claimed to detect fake profiles through an analysis of a user’s friend list and the number of mutual links.

The app analyzes each friend and scores the ‘connectedness’ to each one, flagging the lowest scores as suspicious. It also notifies the user about any applications installed on their profile that could threaten his or her privacy.

“An important feature of our app is the ability for parents to better protect their kids’ privacy with just one click instead of having to navigate the more complicated Facebook privacy settings,” says Michael Fire of BGU’s Department of Information Systems Engineering explains.

“While Facebook encourages connecting with as many people as possible, we advocate limiting users, and have, for the first time, provided an algorithm to scientifically determine who to remove from friend lists.”

The free software is available as a Facebook app for all browsers, and as an add-on for Firefox; the researchers can be contacted here.

“Predators rely on people friending anyone, and with teens now allowed to have Facebook accounts, we believe that our solution can provide necessary protection for all users,” says Fire.