It’s no secret that Facebook isn’t the best place for keeping secrets.
Owen Campbell-Moore, a computer science student at Oxford University, designed a method to encrypt secret messages inside photos on the social networking site. It’s called Secretbook — essentially, it’s a Google Chrome extension that uses JPEG Steganography to encode data into photos by making virtually imperceptible changes to the image. The message is hidden in the digital makeup of the picture, not its pixels, so it’s comparable to digital invisible ink.
Campbell-Moore shared the news in a blog post Monday morning.
“Steganography is essentially hiding messages in innocent cover, such as data and photos,” he told Mashable. “The idea was that these existing tools have never been able to be used on social networking websites. My professor, Andrew Ker, and I thought this was the best way. There are millions of photos being shared every day across the world on Facebook, so it seemed like the ideal medium.”
To use the app, you and your intended recipient can download the extension, then hit “Control-Alt-A” on Facebook to activate it. Upload a photo, and you’ll see a pop-up that tells you how many characters the image can hold. (Most character limits are around 136, similar to a tweet.)
Once you enter your message, you’ll need to enter a password, which your recipient should know. When the photo is posted, whoever is receiving your message can hit “Control-Alt-A” on the photo, enter the password and, voilà, read your secret text.
Already, Campbell-Moore said, more than 7,000 people have downloaded the app from his website. Check out the video above for more details about his project, which was built as a research project (full draft here).
Would you use this extension? Tell us what you think about it below.