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Facebook's new privacy settings will screw you

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If you've logged into Facebook recently, you probably remember seeing a message (it was inescapable, you got it the moment you logged in) with a big song and dance about how Facebook was taking great new steps to protect your privacy and had implemented all these new tools to keep your info safe.

That was a big, fat lie.

Okay, the new privacy tools can actually go a long way toward addressing some of Facebook's privacy woes. But not via the baseline recommended settings they push on you. In fact, as has been widely reported (here and here, for example) that those settings actually make all your stuff less private, not more. The real point of those recommended settings is to open the network to Google and other search engines, to generate pageviews and thus, money. Pretty sneak, sis!

Now, I wouldn't go so far as to call it evil, like this Gawker piece does -- but it's disingenuous at best. It could easily bite Facebook in the ass, too, should the Internet react with its usual distaste for being jerked around.

If you want some settings that will actually restrict your info to those who you want to see it, forget the recommended settings and try some of the tips recommended in posts like this one or this one.

Most of all, remember that nothing on the Internet is ever truly private, nor can it ever really be deleted. Just ask the Bush Administration about that one, or those climate change scientists who decided to play fast and loose with their data.

The best way to keep your private life private is, and always will be, to keep it off the Internet -- or just accept that the Internet is the world's biggest small town, and eventually anything that you do there is going to get around to that mean old biddy down at the church.

And she's going to tell everyone.

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