Lockdown Facebook Photo Albums: Hands-on with McAfee Social Protection App

McAfee's newest social protection app lets you create protected Facebook albums.

McAfee's latest Facebook app, called McAfee Social Protection, lets users create protected Facebook albums that are viewable only to the users they choose to share with. The app is now officially in beta, which means you can check it out right now using your Facebook account.

To install the app, you must first allow it to access your Facebook account. It asks for access to your basic info, which includes any public information on your profile, as well as access to your About You section and your photos (naturally).

After you click through the permissions, you'll reach the McAfee Social Protection Beta splash page. At the moment, the beta version of this app only works for users who have Windows 7 Home Premium or higher, and who are running Internet Explorer 8 or Mozilla Firefox 8 or higher.

You will be prompted to download the McAfee Photo Viewer software, which will let you both upload protected albums and view protected albums that your friends upload. The one-time installation takes less than a minute, and you will have to restart your browser before you can use the app.

To upload protected albums, just go to the My Protected Photos section and click "Upload and Protect Photos."

The app will ask for even more permissions -- to post on your behalf, access your data at any time (always a sketchy permission to bequeath), and to access your custom friends lists. The posting is so the app can post your protected albums to your wall (since you can upload albums that can be seen by your friends lists); the accessing your data at any time is presumably so your friends can see your photos even if you're not logged in to Facebook; and the accessing your custom friends lists is so you can choose custom friends lists to share your photos with.

Once you're past this second set of permissions, you can start uploading photos. While your photos are uploading, you can create a new album, choose who can see the album, and choose who to hide it from. Your options for who can see the album include "Friends," "Specific People or Lists," and "Only me." If you choose "Specific People or Lists," you'll need to type in the names of the lists or people.

Though the photos you upload to McAfee Social Protection are not technically uploaded to Facebook -- they're stored on a secure McAfee/Intel server -- you will see new albums pop up in your Facebook photos. Your friends will also see these albums, but they will only be able to see fuzzy versions of the pictures unless they've been invited to view the album (and they have McAfee Social Protection Installed).

People who can see the pictures will not be able to take screenshots using the Print Screen button or the Windows Snipping Tool, thanks to McAfee's Photo Viewer software. The software grays out the screen when you try to take a screenshot.

McAfee points out that, while this will not stop a truly determined photo vandal from nabbing your pictures (after all, you can always use a physical camera or phone to actually snap a shot of the screen), it will help discourage sharing by creating a roadblock.

If you're one of those people who likes to upload photos to Facebook -- but you don't love the idea of your photos being out there forever -- you should check it out. Remember, this is the beta version, so there are some issues. Mainly, it only works on Windows 7, you must have the Aero theme turned on, and you can't delete any photos from the app (but you can delete photos from your Facebook photos page). McAfee says they're currently working on releasing a version for Mac OS X, but they don't know when it will be available.

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