Through browser extensions, Privly allows you to post to social networks and send email without letting those services see “into” your text. Instead, your actual words get encrypted and then routed to Privlys servers (or an eventual peer-to-peer network). What the social media site “sees” is merely a link that Privly expands in your browser into the full content. Of course, this requires that people who want to see your content also need Privly installed on their machines… .

What’s intriguing about all this is that it, as McGregor puts it, violates many assumptions we have about the way the web works. When we post to a site, we are used to that site controlling whatever it is that we’ve sent to them. That seemed like the tradeoff you had to make in exchange for a service like Facebook. But McGregor and his team argue that it’s simply not necessary to give away that level of control. And they are building the technology to prove it.