McAfee has announced a new Facebook tool called McAfee Social Protection which allows users to share protected photos with select friends, and will be available as a free public beta at the end of the month.

The concept is quite simple. Currently you can put privacy settings into place to keep strangers from stumbling across your photos on your Facebook page, but there's no way to keep your Facebook friends from sharing your photos wherever they want to.

McAfee Social Protection seeks to solve this problem by giving Facebook users a secure platform through which they can upload and share photos without having to worry about people downloading them, copying them, or otherwise sharing them.

McAfee demonstrated the new app at its Santa Clara office. After a quick download and installation of a special photo viewer, users were able to upload, share, and view photos on the secure platform.

Photos are encrypted so they cannot be copied, printed, or have screenshots taken of them, and only the friends you invite to see them are able to see them - all others see blurry renditions of your photos. The photos are not hosted on Facebook's servers, but on a secured Intel server.

McAfee Social Protection it is not foolproof. If someone was really out to get that photo, there are workarounds (for example, you could just take a physical picture with a separate camera of the screen). However, the app does present a stumbling block to the easy, one-click sharing that can sometimes make compromising photos go viral.

It is also a step in the right direction when it comes to helping people get a handle on their personal data. Not only will people be able to know exactly who is seeing their photos, but they'll also be able to pull compromising photos from the Web without having to worry about whether those photos have been copied and pasted elsewhere.

Using McAfee Social Protection is not quite as simple as uploading photos directly to Facebook, and McAfee hasn't mentioned whether there will be a mobile component to the app. However, the extra step might just be worth the extra protection.