McAfee delivers solution for Facebook image protection… but there’s a catch

Facebook is no stranger to concerns about privacy, with images being generally accessible to most users on the Facebook server, even if you’re not necessarily friends with the person who posted them. Internet security provider McAfee may have found a fix for this, but it comes with an interesting catch.

A solution to the privacy woes of Facebook, McAfee has made a public beta of its “McAfee Social Protection” plugin and Facebook app free for users of the giant social networking service.

Once installed, the plugin and app has you upload images to a McAfee server instead of one controlled by Facebook. From that point, only the friends you’ve chosen to have access will be able to see the photos, with everyone else seeing a blurry image.

The system goes one step further by making it next to impossible for image thieves to steal the photos, with McAfee stopping image downloads and even playing around with screen capture software by sending out a picture of a blank screen instead.

“In an age when so much of our lives are chronicled on the web, users need to retain control over their personal information – and currently, depending on your settings, friends and others who can view your photos can download and distribute Facebook photos however they wish,” said Melanie Cole, McAfee’s Consumer Marketing Programs Director for Asia Pacific.

“McAfee Social Protection offers a way for Facebook users to control who can view their photos online, and more importantly prevents others from being able to capture and reuse images.”

There is an interesting catch to all of this, with operating systems, browser choice, and even devices affected by McAfee’s solution.

At the moment, the Social Protection app is only available to PCs with Internet Explorer 8 or higher and Firefox 8 or higher, with not only Mac support missing, but no plugin for other popular web browsers Safari and Chrome.

McAfee did say that Mac, Chrome, and Safari support was coming, but wouldn’t say when.

If you don't have access to see photos from a friend, you'll find the images are blurry.

But problems with the solution go further than this, with McAfee Social Protection not working at all on mobile phones or tablets.

Whether you have an iPhone, Android smartphone, iPad, Blackberry device, or anything else beyond a Windows PC, if you know someone using the Social Protection app, you won’t be able to see their images.

Without support for other platforms, browsing the images of friends and family is left in the lurch, as mobile phones and tablets seem to be – or are at least becoming – the predominant way people check their Facebook accounts.