Business, Finance

Block Party’s Pivot: Introducing Privacy Party to Safeguard Your Online Presence

Earlier this year, Block Party, the startup spearheaded by software engineer and tech diversity advocate Tracy Chou, faced the repercussions of Twitter’s API changes, compelling it to reevaluate and evolve its business strategy. Now, at the SXSW conference in Austin, Chou unveiled Block Party’s revamped identity with the introduction of its new product, Privacy Party. This innovative tool aims to simplify and enhance individuals’ control over their privacy settings across various social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, and X, among others.

Block Party’s original incarnation relied on Twitter’s API to automate the process of blocking malicious actors, trolls, and harassers. The company garnered $4.8 million in seed funding in 2022, a year after its launch, with the vision of expanding its automated blocking capabilities to multiple platforms. However, the shift in Twitter’s API policies forced Block Party to rebrand its initial product as Block Party Classic, currently on hiatus.

During her presentation at SXSW, Chou acknowledged the demise of Block Party Classic, emphasizing its role in filtering out spam and harassment from Twitter mentions, enhancing the user experience without delving into content moderation. Unfortunately, the changes in Twitter ownership led to a loss of API access, prompting Chou to advocate for regulations that mandate open APIs to prevent such challenges in the future.

Undeterred by the uncertainties surrounding API regulation, Block Party is now directing its efforts towards developing Privacy Party. Chou revealed that the inspiration for this new product stemmed from discussions with newsroom security teams seeking tools to help journalists stay safe online. Privacy Party addresses not only harassment issues but also aids users in streamlining and securing their social profiles to prevent unwanted revelations, such as old photos resurfacing.

Privacy Party functions as middleware, facilitating user interaction with social platforms and services to adjust privacy settings with ease. In a demo at SXSW, Block Party’s Head of Product Design, Deonne Castaneda, showcased the extension’s ability to simplify the process of making a single photo album private on Facebook, reducing the clicks required from six to a more user-friendly experience.

The beta version of Privacy Party, available as a browser extension, tailors its recommendations based on users’ current settings. The extension scans platforms in the background, providing users with alerts once the process is complete. Users can then review and modify their privacy settings across various parameters, including content tagging, post visibility, and contact permissions.

Privacy Party’s extension also delves into areas that may expose users to risks, such as app permissions, location data, and visibility of personal information. As users make adjustments, the extension automatically updates settings, serving as a personalized privacy expert.

Currently free to use during its beta phase, Privacy Party covers popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, Strava, X, and Venmo. The extension’s scan duration varies based on the complexity of settings, ranging from a minute to eight minutes.

While Chou did not provide a timeline for Privacy Party’s exit from beta, users can take advantage of this valuable tool to gain control over their online privacy, guided by transparent recommendations and user-friendly controls.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *