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Zuckerberg buys four new houses for, um, privacy

The Facebook CEO purchases four residences adjacent to his existing home. He's said to have reacted to a developer's plans to buy one of the houses and sell it as "the one next door to Zuckerberg."

Not in my house.

It's all about the timing.

On the one hand, you offer a loud piece of news that oh, no, people can't keep themselves private from Facebook's Graph Search anymore.

On the other, there emerges a whisper that you've bought four houses around your own in order to secure a little more, well, you know, seclusion.

Yes, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly dug deep into his jeans, found $30 million, and exchanged them for four houses adjacent to his own in Palo Alto, Calif.

As the San Jose Mercury News tells it, this isn't really out of fear that mooching paparazzi will move in next door, take photographs of him mowing the lawn, and put them up on, say, Facebook.

Well, actually it rather is.

For Facebook's CEO reportedly heard word that an unscrupulous someone was trying to buy one of the neighboring houses and then market it as "The House Next Door to Mark Zuckerberg."

Gosh, that would be like taking someone's Facebook profile picture and using it to sell a 55-gallon tub of lube.

What kind of feeling-free, predatory money-grabber does something like that?

Zuckerberg, though, is keen not to disrupt the neighborhood (and his own image). So he's buying the houses and leasing them back to the folks who currently live in them.

The progressive purchases began in December. And one house he bought -- a 2,600 square-foot edifice -- fetched $14 million. Which seems even more absurd than the fee Yahoo paid for Tumblr.

I have contacted Facebook to see whether Zuckerberg might lease me a cellar in one of the houses -- I'm sorry, I mean to see whether the company might comment on this apparent sprint to privacy. I will update, should my request survive inspections. Update 10:52 a.m. PT: A Facebook spokeswoman contacted me, but could not offer comment on these transactions.

This truly isn't a case of the rich not being like you and me. One can surely understand Zuckerberg not wanting to have people snooping around his steamed-up windows, or even buying a neighboring house just to live next to him.

This is more a case of the shifting definition of personal information.

Your personal life is now known as Facebook's data. Its CEO's personal life is now known as mind your own business.