WhatApp.org – a Stanford project dedicated to measuring security – recently found that Facebook users had significantly less privacy than Twitter and the iPhone. The site uses experts’ analysis to rate different applications, and on the whole, Facebook scored 2 out of 5 while Twitter and the iPhone scored 3 out of 5.
The site’s co-founder, Ryan Calo, is a Stanford University Law Fellow and feels that the results of his site are accurate and match people’s frustration over using Facebook Applications:
“I think people are upset because when you download an app, you don’t have any control over what the app developer sees on your profile,” says Calo. “There’s the perception among users that they don’t need to give away so much information to have the apps do the same thing as they are currently doing.”
The WhatApp site works by approving experts to help measure the privacay, security and openness of web and mobile applications as well as their platforms. The goal is primarily to look at specific applications, but results can be extrapolated to determine how platforms are faring as well. The site focuses on approving experts such as lawyers, security gurus and computer scientists to do the actual ratings, where other users can join to leave comments and suggest applications.
According to the Forbes analysis, Facebook got 2 points out of 5 for all three categories. The problem here is that you can’t see how many experts rated the platform at this point, but Calo is planning to add this shortly. Calo also adds an “expert review” analyzing the site and knocking its privacy settings. Twitter and the iPhone were slightly higher at 3 points out of 5. The problem here is that if Ryan Calo, who is a law student, qualifies as an expert, how can we trust the score? How do we know these are objective results and analyses of security if we can’t even see how many experts, and which experts, gave the rating. There are still some problems to work out here, but the idea is definitely sound and fits a niche.