ReclaimPrivacy.org, a donation-based project to easily monitor privacy settings on Facebook, has launched a tool that will issue warnings on settings that fail to protect users of the social network.
The browser-based tool is in answer to Facebook's complex privacy policies, which have grown dramatically in length over the last five years. Facebook has come under fire by privacy advocates over the last few months for changing the default privacy settings, so users' status updates are open to the entire Web, unless the user proactively takes steps to modify the settings.
ReclaimPrivacy.org makes checking settings on the site easy by scanning them and then reporting their status as "good," "caution," or insecure. The first exposure level means no private information is shared, the second means some information is shared and the third indicates no information is blocked.
In general, the tool reports on how much personal and contact information is shared not just with friends, but can also be exposed to third-party applications and Websites. The tool installs in a Web browser by simply dragging a "scan for privacy" link to the bookmarks bar.
Once installed, a person logs into Facebook and then clicks the bookmark to see the results of the privacy scan. The results also include links to related settings.
Facebook's privacy policies has come under scrutiny by the European Union. In the United States, four Senate Democrats have asked the Federal Trade Commission to develop guidelines governing the way social networking sites use members' personal information.