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A weird new Facebook feature gives you more control over your privacy

Here's the big problem with the Internet: Once you post something, it's out there forever. You have an idea or a photo and it seems harmless at the time, but later on you might regret it. And maybe it really is harmless, but are you sure you want your information online for all time?

That's especially true with Facebook. Facebook's entire business strategy is about collecting as much information about you as possible and selling it to advertisers. You're not Facebook's customer, you're its product. And you'd be surprised how much information Facebook can learn from a simple status post.

So it might seem strange that Facebook is testing out a new feature that lets you schedule your posts to delete themselves forever. The tool was rolled out on select iPhones and iPads on a trial basis, but if it's successful you could see it soon on every Facebook account.

It lets you set a time between one hour and one week for your post to be permanently erased from Facebook. Like any deleted post, it could take as long as 90 days to be scrubbed from Facebook servers, but in that time, no one will be able to see it. Right now, you can delete anything you post on Facebook, but you'll have to search for them and erase them one by one.

More and more people and companies are turning to so-called "ephemeral" social media like Snapchat, Wickr and Confide. Ephemeral means "short-lived," or "disappearing quickly." Even Facebook had a short-lived app called Poke that let you send self-destructing private messages. An ephemeral ephemeral app: how ironic! Facebook recently released an app to replace Poke called Slingshot. It's pretty much the same thing with different branding.

People are learning they don't want all their content hanging around the Web for all time. After all, real human interaction is ephemeral by nature. Also, in the wake of continuing revelations about the scope of NSA and corporate data collection, we're learning not to trust governments and big businesses with our personal info.

What do you think? Are you using Snapchat or other ephemeral media to communicate online? Will you use Facebook's new self-destructing posts when they come out?

Let me know in the comments below. And if you have any questions about Facebook and social media, send me an email. I read them all!

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