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Awkward Facebook status updates in the public spotlight

A new Web site makes it easier than ever to read compromising Facebook status updates that users have unwittingly made public.

Faces and names have been obscured for this screenshot.

Callum Haywood, an 18-year-old developer from England, is making waves in the Facebook privacy waters. His recently launched site, We Know What You're Doing, culls embarrassing status updates and catalogs them for the world to see.

We Know What You're Doing shakes out into four categories in the form of questions: Who wants to get fired? Who's hungover? Who's taking drugs? Who's got a new phone number?

All it takes to land in the spotlight is a fitting keyword and a failure to have your Facebook privacy settings locked down. Haywood pulls all the updates directly from Facebook's Graph API. For modesty's sake, all the new phone numbers given out over public updates are partially obscured.

In its first 27 hours of being online, the site pulled in 100,000 unique visitors. Those visitors are welcomed with grammatically challenged status gems such as "I hate my boss so mch, his so arrogant bloody ass" and "God is peace and love# God smoke cannabis!!! :o."

Now, the whole world knows who has a hangover and who feels like killing her boss. The updates come complete with profile thumbnails. It's no surprise there's plenty of fodder for the site. A Consumer Reports study found millions of users aren't using the privacy controls.

This isn't the first time someone has culled embarrassing status updates off of Facebook. Failbook is a major repository of faux pas, ignorant statements, and unfortunate typos.

One difference is that We Know What You're Doing doesn't deal with user submissions. For your awkward status update to hit Failbook, a warm body has to screen-cap and share it. For Haywood's site, all it takes is not having your privacy settings set to hide your compromising social-media statements.

Haywood describes his site as "an experiment." It could be seen as a conveniently voyeuristic way to peek at thorny Facebook updates, but I prefer to see it as a cautionary tale. If you don't lock down your privacy sections and aren't discerning about what you post, the whole world could become the audience for your updates.

CNET's Molly Wood walks you through tweaking your Facebook privacy settings here. Otherwise, your boss might not be happy to hear that you came to work hung over and high and you hate his guts on top of it all.

(Via Yahoo)