Thursday, November 24, 2011

Enhancing privacy in comments

FHEO or "For human eyes only" is a Firefox browser plugin with the goal of enhancing privacy in comments made in social networks or forums. The idea is to counter  privacy issues seen mainly in social networks, by using (distorted) images instead of plain text. The two issues it mainly defends against:
  1. Expiration of comments;
  2. Prevention of comments being indexed by web crawlers.
Most social networks do not allow deleting old posts or comments, and if they do it is not an automatic process. Moreover those comments can be easily  gathered by a crawler such as google and be used to associate persons based on written comments, political ideas etc.

This is something my colleague Andreas Pashalidis didn't like and proposed a master thesis on a firefox plugin that would counter those issues. This thesis was completed by Xavi Ferrer and BeƱat Bermejo under our supervision and resulted to a firefox plugin prototype. Later the plugin and distortions have been enhanced by Andreas (and to a tiny degree me), and now a fully functional plugin is available under the Apache License 2.0.

We'd appreciate your comments and ideas.

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