Apps emerge to reset Facebook privacy settings

It's unclear so far what Facebook thinks of the third-party apps that can reset a user's privacy settings to "friends only."

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

New third-party applications are trying to make it easier to reset Facebook privacy settings, following recent changes from the company that make a sizable chunk of profile content public by default when it was once under lock and key.

A firewall and spam filter company called Untangle launched a tool on Monday called SaveFace, which takes the form of a browser bookmark utility and sets as many Facebook profile elements as it can--contact information, friend lists and connections, wall posts--to "friends only."

"We wanted to help our customers get back to [the] Facebook of 2005," Untangle CEO Bob Walters said in a statement, in which he referred to Facebook's current privacy controls as "insane" and difficult to handle.

Additionally, an independent developer released on Monday a similar tool called ReclaimPrivacy.org, which scans a Facebook member's privacy settings, flags profile elements that may be unexpectedly public, and, like SaveFace, can reset them. Both applications are open source.

It's unclear what Facebook thinks of these apps. But considering the social network very vocally banned an app that "unfriended" people, citing privacy violation, it may also take issue with services that modify privacy settings. Granted, ReclaimPrivacy and SaveFace are not built on the Facebook developer platform, so the rules that govern them may be different.

Still, Facebook may want to leave these services alone because, in a sense, they could put members at ease and could let Facebook off the hook in the process--regardless of whether it deserves to be or not.

CNET has contacted Facebook for comment and will update this post when the company responds.