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New site tells what you -- and everyone else -- is doing

We Know What You're Doing site
msnbc.com

Hate your boss? Are you hungover? Did you smoke some weed? If you keep these thoughts and actions to yourself, step away from this story now. But if you share that kind of info on Facebook, you could be featured on a new website that simply combs through publicly available, posted comments from the social network.

Among the examples shared on We Know What You're Doing

I'm getting so mad right now I hate my boss Jay I hope he dies better yet I feel like killin him if you in a bad mood don't take it out on everyone at the jobNever been so hungover. :(God is peace and love# God smoke cannabis!!! :o

And it's not just what's being said, it's who's saying it. That's right: "Your name here," basically, especially if you haven't set stronger privacy controls on who sees your information. Your name and photo — if you have one posted publicly — could show up on We Know What You're Doing.

We Know What You're Doing also was sharing new phone numbers that social network users publicly posted for anyone to see. But site creator Callum Haywood, who lives in Nottingham, England, told msnbc.com in an email interview Tuesday that "just earlier today I started to censor people's phone numbers, so they were not directly visible."

What, you didn't think your remarks about your boss, your drinking, your drugging, were public? Then this site — and the warning it gives — is for you, a wakeup call that should catapult you into action, into reviewing your Facebook settings.

And it's not the first time a site like this has popped up. Back in the Internet's ancient times of 2010, a site called Please Rob Me raised hackles — and some consciousness — when it shared Facebook info from people publicly posting about being away from home on vacations. (I say "some consciousness," because there still way too many people publicly sharing that they'll be in Bermuda, or wherever, for the next 2 weeks, and away from home.)

Haywood, who says he's an 18-year-old Web developer, came up with the idea based on a video, "I Know What You Did Five Minutes Ago," from Ignite London 4's conference last year, which showed how easily personal information can be plucked and culled from Web users who aren't more careful about privacy settings.

Facebook's privacy controls, Haywood says, "are very effective when used correctly." But, as noted recently, those privacy controls can be more confusing and harder to understand than the small print coming from credit card companies and even government entities, according to a recent survey.

As to We Know What You're Doing's information, "There is nothing on this website that cannot be accessed by anyone else," Haywood says on the site.

"These people probably wouldn't want this info (published), would they?" Haywood says in his own Q-and-A. His answer:

Probably not to be fair, but it was their choice, or lack of, with regards to their account privacy settings. People have lost their jobs in the past due to some of the posts they put on Facebook, so maybe this demonstrates why. Efforts have been made to remove any personal data from the results, such as the actual phone numbers, surnames, etc. The data is still easily accessible from the API, the filters have been put in place to protect the site from legal issues.

The lesson to be learned, he writes: "Just make sure your Facebook privacy settings are sufficient, for example don't publish status updates containing potentially risky material as 'Public' because then they have a good chance of showing up in the public Graph API ... The problem is not with Facebook themselves, when used correctly, their privacy controls are very good. The problem is how people simply don't understand the risks of sharing everything."

As word spreads about We Know What You're Doing, Haywood told msnbc.com he'll keep the site going "for as long as necessary."

"I am willing to change the site in response to people's reactions," he said. "The problem still stands though: the data is accessible from Facebook anyway, so any site can pick it up. People need to be aware of this."

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