Get an E-Mail or Twitter Alert When a Company Changes is Privacy or Security Policy

September 23, 2008

by — Posted in Security, Technology

Picture from here

A couple weeks ago I was talking with a friend about an idea for a new web service.   The web service would have you enter in all the services and sites you use and have an account with online, and then send you a twitter alert when the policy changed and it would show you which text changed.  My problem is while I could come up with the design, function, and architecture I couldn’t figure out any way to monetize such a service.  I let it languish and said I would eventually write a blog article on how to roll you own.   This is that article.

The key feature to making this work (obviously) is a service that can monitor website for changes and give you some sort of data trigger outbound that is usable for repurposing.  I know I could use services that would do an RSS feed, but I wanted something more immediate and trustworthy then RSS for this scenario.  I hunted around and I found the service Change Detection that will send send you an email when a web page has changed.

E-Mail Alerts

With e-mail you have a bit more control.   It’s all easy.  If all you want is an e-mail alert put in the policy page into the page address field.   Then place your e-mail address in the “send alert to:” field.   Easy as cake and your done.

Twitter Alerts

What about getting twitter alerts?  The first thing I’ll point out, I’m not a programmer.  I’m sure there are much better ways to do this in much simpler methods.  I have two requirements for myself.   Keep it free, and it keep it in the cloud.   Make the internet do the work for you, it’s always on and online – your computer doesn’t have to be.  So instead of using an Uber-Twitterbot I’m going to utilize a few free service:

1. Change Detection -Configure the privacy page you want to monitor the same way in section for getting email alerts.  Instead of relying on the emails for notification, change detection allows you to create an RSS feed for each page you are monitoring.

3. Twitter – Setup a new twitter account that you can friend.  If you worried about privacy (people knowing which sites you are watching), set the updates to be protected so only “friends” can see them.   Have the alert twitter account friend you, log out and friend the account back with your main twitter account.

4. Twitterfeed -Take the feed from change detection, pipe it through twitterfeed so it will put update notifications to your “alert account”.   Now whenever anything has changed you can watch updates from that account and you’ll have almost real time monitoring of any web page.

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