AOL Announces SafeSocial to Protect Kids on Facebook

Earlier this month, AOL joined the privacy bandwagon with the introduction of its SafeSocial service, a tool that grants parents access to key pieces of their kids’ online lives, from pictures and posts to Internet accounts and Facebook friends.

Now AOL has revealed the technology behind the tool, announcing today it will partner with SocialShield, a San Bruno, Calif.-based software company, to power the SafeSocial offering.

The partnership is a boon to SocialShield, a small start-up founded just last year by Noah Kindler and Arad Rostampour. The two men were prompted to apply their technology expertise and Ivy League-training to the privacy issue after a mutual friend’s daughter was followed by more than 80 men on Facebook when her father posted family vacation photos to the site, according to the company bio.

Rostampour described the company as “heavily focused on innovation,” and said of the partnership with AOL: “We’re committed to evolving alongside the social web and helping parents keep pace with the expanding universe of new websites, forums and other media that are available.”

The software’s ‘360 Degree View’ technology pulls out the irrelevant information that bogged down previous search tools by looking for words or phrases that raise red flags. Parents then receive email alerts if anything alarming comes up, and the data is highlighted at the top of the dashboard for easy viewing.

The SafeSocial service is also unique in that kids have to agree to be monitored. But once parents can convince their kids to agree, they receive what can only be considered the ‘golden key’ to online snooping: access to their kids’ accounts, an investigative feature that checks their kids’ “friends” against “more than 50 Web sites to find out more about them,” and their kids’ photos investigated and displayed in “an easy-to-use gallery.”

AOL said the decision to go with SocialShield was made after an “extensive partner search.”

The company will continue to market the product under the name, AOL Safe Social, and will maintain separate development, engineering and marketing teams.

AOL is now offering SafeSocial as a free 30 day trial, after which it will cost users $9.99 per month.