The Facebook Timeline Is Coming, And It Scares A Lot Of People

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The Facebook Timeline Is Coming, And It Scares A Lot Of People
[ Social Media]

The new Facebook Timeline is not the most popular feature that Facebook has ever introduced. Granted, it’s well documented that Facebook users are often super-resistant to change, but for some the new Timeline goes beyond minor annoyances like crowded layouts and superfluous features. For many users, it’s a real issue of privacy.

For awhile now, users have been able to access the new profile look if they chose to do so. But since it was still voluntary, many users just ignored it and went about their normal, everyday Facebooking. Facebook has always said that the Timeline would eventually become a mandatory part of everyone’s Facebook experience, but it wasn’t until last week that Facebook announced the switch to Timeline was imminent.

Will the mandatory switch to the Timeline cause you to reevaluate your participation in the network? Are you upset that Facebook is putting it on users to clean up their Timeline data, or do you think users should be responsible for everything the post – even stuff from half a decade ago? Let us know what you think.

Over the next couple of weeks, the Timeline will be rolling out to everyone. Once your profile switches over, you’ll have a week-long “grace period.” During this week, your Timeline view will only be able to be seen by you – this gives you time to clean it up and make it presentable for mass consumption.

Personally, I kind of like the Timeline. I think that it’s a much-needed upgrade of a fairly stale profile page. But then again, I’m not that private of a person and I don’t really care about the skeletons from 2005 that the timeline allow people to dig up if they so choose.

Having said that, here’s some news for Facebook users that have yet to switch to Timeline: it is quite overwhelming at first. I joined Facebook on Halloween, 2004 – and since then have amassed a shocking number of wall posts, status updates, photos, and shared links. And while I wouldn’t call any of it embarrassing, there are some things that if they went away, it wouldn’t bother me. A drunken photo here, an over-zealous political status update there – eight years of living publicly through Facebook is bound to reveal minor indiscretions.

But I know that I’m abnormal in the fact that I don’t really care about all of that. For a large percentage of Facebook users, the company is crossing some lines with Timeline. The main concern is that Facebook seems to have adopted an “opt-out” strategy when it comes to information sharing. The Timeline puts everything out there by default, and it’s the user’s job to clean it up and make sure that they aren’t publicly sharing something that they want to remain private.

Of course, this discussion of “private information” doesn’t just include old, unearthed photos and statuses – but the series of “frictionless” apps that are going to be an integral part of the Timeline. These apps, like “social readers” and music apps like Spotify automatically share your activities with friends. Although Facebook has stressed that the Timeline doesn’t disclose any more private information than the old profile and that all of the apps are voluntary, online privacy groups have voiced concerns.

One, for example, is the Electronic Privacy Information Center. They have asked the FTC to look into whether or not the Timeline violates Facebook’s privacy promises, stemming from a previous agreement with the FTC.

“With Timeline, Facebook has once again taken control over the user’s data from the user and has now made information that was essentially archived and inaccessible widely available without the consent of the user,” they said in a letter, adding that Facebook “promotes oversharing” and wants users to “abandon restraint.”

So, how do Facebook users feel about the Timeline? Is it just a bunch of isolated bitching, or is there mass concern? According to a poll by IT security company Sophos, a majority of people are apprehensive about the changes.

Over 51% said that the Timeline worries them. Another 32% said that they aren’t even sure why they’re on Facebook anymore:

Sophos admits that their poll might have involved people who are a little more concerned with privacy and security issues than the average Joe, but it’s still a striking figure. With this kind of widespread apprehension, it’s no wonder that scam apps have popped up all over Facebook offering to deactivate users’ Timeline.

Other than concerns about crazy stalkers and shocked family members having access to evidence of debauchery, users are worried about identity theft. Could a yet-to-be-vetted Timeline serve as a treasure trove for cyber criminals that use personal information in various unsavory ways?

Sure, but let’s also think about it like this: Facebook isn’t crafting stories out of thin air and using them to populate your Timeline. Anything that the Timeline shows from five years ago, you willfully posted (whether you remember it or not). Sure, Timeline kind of opens up old wounds in a way. Things that you thought buried by time are now prominently visible again. Old information is inarguably much more accessible with Timeline.

But if you shared it, shouldn’t you own it?

And as far as the concern over frictionless sharing with new apps, the answer is fairly simple. If you don’t want everyone to see what you’re listening to with Spotify, don’t connect Spotify to your Facebook account. If their recent actions haven’t made it clear, Facebook is going all-in with sharing. That’s what “frictionless” means – without impediments. The free flow of information has to be curbed by the user, if they want certain activities to remain private.

But the bottom line for some: Facebook is putting the onus of privacy control on the user by putting it all out there and asking everyone to do all the work in making sure their privacy concerns are met.

Will the forced Timeline cause users to jump ship? I doubt it. It seems like every Facebook change brings out the “i’m gonna ditch” threats. Despite this, Facebook continues to grow – because it has become such an important part of our culture. But there is quite a bit of hate out there for the Timeline, so we’ll have to wait and see the reaction when it has finally rolled out to everyone.

What do you think about the Timeline? Are you concerned about how Facebook is handling user privacy? Do you think people are overreacting? Let us know in the comments.

The Facebook Timeline Is Coming, And It Scares A Lot Of People
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  • http://bit.ly/w0E1ar Rania

    I have mixed emotions about timeline but either way, we’ll all be stuck with it soon enough. Here are seven resources to help you embrace Facebook Timeline: http://www.bit.ly/AmTpCn

  • Barry Fife

    Why on timeline the friends. listing is no in alphabetical order like the current friends list

  • http://ultrafastusdcash.co.cc khrit

    wow. that’s new for me. seem like fb is more complex.

  • Emma

    My issue is that thugs I thought were deleted from my profile, or we’re further back than I had been able to visit on my own profile suddenly reappeared as if by magic.

  • Emma

    Not thugs… Things*

  • MikeD

    This is the holy grail of facebook customer data. With timeline, facebook now has time as a variable for its statistical analyses. With time as a variable you can run time series statistics, including “Granger causality.” This allows those who possess the data to predict future consumer trends about individual consumers. In essence they will know what you want before you do. I’m assuming that the timing of this new feature coincides with the upcoming (overpriced) IPO: it increases the value of facebook dramatically as there has never before been a time in history where we’ve had this much information about the world’s population and all in one data set which now contains the most important dimension: time.

    • Anthony

      MikeD, they’ve ALWAYS had that data (including the time it was posted). It was just mostly hidden until now. Facebook themselves could have accessed it at any time for analysis, otherwise they couldn’t put it all together right in everyones timeline.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/search-engine-optimization-firm.htm Nick Stamoulis

    Facebook knows that its user base isn’t going anywhere. Facebook is now a part of our lives. Timeline does raise privacy issues, but when it comes down to it if you are really that concerned, cancel your account.

    • http://www.ientry.com/ Josh Wolford

      Like I said, I would be SHOCKED if this really affected Facebook’s growth.

      • David Lothan

        “One of the things we learned is that you can’t just walk in and rearrange the furniture.” It was Sam Lessin, product Manager for Facebook Timeline, explaining why Facebook was taking its time rolling out Timeline.

        As they made it user by user the user being infected by timeline had to get used to it to keep talking with their friends that aren’t infected.
        However, if they made the change directly probably people will react negative and switch to other social-networks.
        So they realized that by that way it was likely to not affect facebook growths.

  • AlanDevil

    Is there a way to delete lder posts NOT MANUALLY ONE BY ONE?

    Thank you.


  • http://www.hub-uk.com David Jenkins

    I’m not really concerned about the implications for me as I have never been a great user of Facebook. In fact I would be happier if Facebook had never been invented. Once you have had a daughter groomed by a paedophile through Facebook it puts a whole different perspective on things.

    My Facebook activity has been more recent with a view to starting to promote my web site so no great secrets or embarrassment there.

    My kids on the other hand may well find things coming back to haunt them. Teenage girls can say some very bitchy things on Facebook which as grown women they may well live to regret.

  • Chris Phillips

    I understand Facebook’s business model, but as much as I enjoy keeping up with distant friends and relatives on Facebook, I have decided I don’t want to continue being Facebook’s product to the extent it is now insisting I be. When the mandatory switch comes, I will switch off Facebook.

    • http://www.ientry.com/ Josh Wolford

      Will you embrace Google+ then? Twitter?

    • Kyle

      I’m with Chris on this one, the Facebook beast has grown too big and I’ve been concerned about a buisiness page/Reg pagr all along…..No Thanks!
      Yes Josh, if that’s what it takes, I’ll certainly embrace the others. I’m already on LinkedIn and appreciate their privacy considerations. there is just too much personal information floating around in cyber space, at some point it absolutely will become an issue.

      • dudica

        I have to agree with you. I also think to cancel me from Facebook. I really don’t like this Timeline and I believe that Facebook will have a great impact by this – a negative one. Many people I know will simply cancel their account… I don’t know how will this Timeline then benefit Facebook when users aren’t happy about it… All the best to them but I’m out.

        • Carole

          Agreed… color me gone.

          Example: I discontinued reading webpronews when they forced those obnoxious pop-over ads on you to even get to the article, most of which you couldn’t close and just froze your machine… I chose to begin viewing through a proxy for a while, then simply lost interest. I don’t have time for clusterf***s.

          • Carole

            P.S. I discontinued use of twitter and google profile/+ for the same reasons. Fixing it till it’s broke. It’s difficult to imagine why these ppl posess this disease of wishing to destroy a platform that works just fine, bypassing one of the top 5 sales rules K.I.S.S. Truly baffling.

  • Gabrielle

    I like the new Facebook timeline and look. You can control what is shown the same way you could with the wall. The reason that Facebook has been so successful is because it has been a leader in change, rather than following trends. People always grumble, but eventually they adapt. Change happens!

    • http://www.ientry.com/ Josh Wolford

      Agreed, People b1tched about the News Feed many years ago. Can you imagine Facebook without a News Feed?

      • Carole

        I stopped using the fb news feed as well for the same reasons as above. If it bocomes a messy, time-consuming P.I.T.A. I simply leave.

  • http://www.lindastacy.com Linda Stacy

    I’m not too concerned about what will show up in my timeline; I’ve never posted anything outrageous. I just don’t want to have to take the time to design my profile page again. The inconvenience isn’t enough to make me delete my account, but it’s another one in a series of changes that has me spending less and less time there. When I’m forced to, I’ll do something minimal to make my profile look half-way decent and then likely just leave it be.

  • http://www.mmwaxmodels.com MkM

    No worries. If we are honest and keep things clean there’s nothing to be afraid of. I like the look of Timeline and how it appears to be a webpage presentation. Facebook has connected me with friends and family that I enjoy staying in touch with. MkM

  • Dan Curtis

    At this point, time line reveals to much about what is going on in my life and when… That is a privacy issue

  • http://www.bgscott.com Brian Scott

    I shall be closing my facebook account shortly. This is not acceptable!!! Script-kiddies strike again!!!!

  • Debbie

    I recently set up facebook so I could have a business page. There’s nothing shocking, regretable or embarassing because it’s mostly business stuff. But I don’t like the look of those pages I’ve seen using timeline. They seem cluttered and it’s hard to find information.
    Not sure if I will actually leave but find myself really resenting the forced change to something I dislike. If it’s so much better everyone would switch over sooner or later anyway. If not, facebook should be listening to their users.

  • http://arhimania.ro arhimania

    I like the timeline

  • http://apennyandchange.pennyleisch.com Penny J. Leisch

    I can handle the format, but I hate the upkeep required when these changes occur. Timeline is cute for personal use, but it’s not a good format for businesses. It’s also very hard to read. Many people will find it confusing because it’s hard to tell what is visible publicly because items marked as hidden are visible to the page owner. I wrote a whole chapter on social media for writers. That probably means I’m not a novice or technically challenged. However, I’ve seriously considered dropping FB. Too many changes, too often, too much time to control and vet it. FB will probably win, until someone else comes along and steels the show by giving consumers what they want and not holding them hostage.

    • http://apennyandchange.pennyleisch.com Penny J. Leisch

      Sorry, I meant to use the break, not the bold. My coffee hasn’t kicked in yet.

  • Lynn

    I will figure out how to delete stuff when they switch my page, then I will only be on to play a couple of games and off again. If I could find those 2 games on another site I would do so and delete my account permanently. The timeline is too busy, cluttered and gives me a headache..
    I think by forcing us to do this that Mark Zuckerburg is nothing better than a schoolyard bully!!!

  • http://www.jimtaylor.com jim taylor

    This is what I think of the new Timeline mode.

    Sung to the tune of “It’s beginning to look a lot like Myspace err Christmas”


  • http://www.wix.com/polalor/physics_shrouded_in_mist Peter J. O’Lalor

    Will the mandatory switch to the Timeline cause you to reevaluate your participation in the network?

    NO!Not right away:

    Are you upset that Facebook is putting it on users to clean up their Timeline data, or do you think users should be responsible for everything the[y] post?

    Looking forward to what you discover and report.

    I agree; I don’t know what FB means to me; but, I tried and thought from the beginning; when it was set to personal it was personal; User decided to mark it public. I still stumble on FB searching for what I’ve posted or in responding to a post.

    Please keep us informed: Thanks and keep an eye on FB’s stance RE: Their idea of what’s private.


  • http://www.starrgates.com Caryn Starr-Gates

    It’s less about privacy and more about the fact that the timeline makes it look like someone vomited up and entire diary all over a page. It’s a visual mess, way too much crap to wade through – does anyone really care that much about having to see everything about someone’s life all at once, all over the place? It is a train wreck, I don’t like it and do not see any value in it.
    I do believe I will spend less time on Facebook because of this.

    • http://www.ientry.com/ Josh Wolford

      I agree that it’s definitely a pain to sort through and determine what you would like to remove and what you would like to feature.

    • Carole

      Ha ha, Caryn! 😀

      My thoughts *exactly*!!! I’ve been telling ppl that, unless you take a hit of LSD (what I’m guessing their ppl were on when they dreamt up this clusterf*** of a nightmare) or bring a kaleidoscope and a spoon with you to facebook to de-code that mess that looks like someone dumped out a game of pictionary with a bowl of alphabet soup on top… you’re right, it looks like vomit! And on top of that the vomit takes on a life of it’s own as it mutates and moves all around on the page… ridiculous.

      My gawd, I’ve seen some pretty stupid things done to web sites over the last 20 years, but I must say this one takes the cake! lol 😀

  • http://www.melmenzies.co.uk/ Mel Menzies

    Once upon a time you had the option as to whether you wanted your year of birth to be private or not. That still appears to be the case, but one of the things I’ve noticed in recent weeks is that FB “friends” (most of whom I’ve never met) now have not only a birthday reminder sent out, but their age. That can have a huge impact on how you’re perceived by people who don’t know you. And I, for one, feel that this is a gross breach of my privacy.

  • http://FB lori

    I’m not a fan and because of the change I hardly ever go on FB anymore.

  • http://www.southernutahhousefinder.com Ryan Andersen

    We still have google circles. If people don’t like the time line they can always turn it off and stop using it. Google Circles may just become the new norm for social media.

  • http://Rockmore.org Theresa Tee Marvin

    I believe that this is an improvement as well as keeps people honest don’t you think?

    • Kate Lennon

      You’re kidding, right?

  • http://www.searchquestamerica.com Susan


    I actually like the new Timeline better than the old format. Much crisper layout and more professional looking.

  • Robert

    Many people I know are leaving Facebook. Facebook needs to learn to leave well enough alone. They are always coming up with these cockamamie ideas to change things. That is Zukkerman’s youth, inexperience, and ignorance coming through.

    • Amanda

      I wish I had Zuckerman’s youth, inexperience and ignorance…. Then I might be a billionaire too!

  • Kathryn Beach

    Since professionally I administer Facebook Pages for others, I have to keep a profile there. However I will be deleting as much as I can from my profile history and limiting my personal activities there. I dislike the mess that is the new page style. There is a reason that I refused to administer MySpace pages for clients – it was the “teenager’s bedroom” design. It’s becoming painful to use Facebook for the same and I will limit my use to professional reasons in the future. WTG Facebook…you’re becoming the darling of the teens.

    • http://website-in-a-weekend.net/ Dave Doolin

      This is really a *huge* opportunity for MySpace: “The social network that lets you alone.”

  • Carole

    How is this going to help me interact with my friends? If they want to have timeline, start a separate facebook for it! Give us a choice! I’m here for my friends, not some fancy-ass blog/scrapbook!

  • richard

    Do not like the timeline, hard to follow and assimilate info and just stupid. We should, as users, be given the option to maintain the previous format.

  • http://btmphotography.blogspot.com ben m

    As soon as Facebook makes it mandatory I’m deactivating my account. I’ve already been fed up with it for a while now but this will definitely be the last straw for me.

  • Sue Hetherington

    Timeline is in my opinion the the most difficult to utilize from a viewing point of view, I do not yet have this but a number of my friends have and frankly I cannot find anything with ease on their pages. I only use FB for gaming and I will close FB down if I cannot find a way around using Timeline, there are so many issues surrounding FB and gaming that it is no longer worth the effort to try and learn a new layout.

  • Jonathan Peebles

    I am the percentage that wonders why they are still on FB. God I miss myspace but it too messed it self up with the changes and now FB is doing the same thing and it is a very lame version on myspace

  • http://www.ukgreetingcards.co.uk Michael

    I am not sure about this one I use facebook its not that good there is much better social sites out there!! I will have to see what they do on this one.

  • http://www.s-3d.com David Bailey

    I LOVE the new Timeline feature. As for security, there seems to be plenty of the same controls available as before. Personally, I use Friend groups and limit access to my profile based on those groups. Secondly, a basic foundation of NOT sharing things you don’t want shared to the world is key. I feel that the new lay-out is the best thing they have done!!

    • http://www.ientry.com/ Josh Wolford

      I am of the mindset that if you put it out there, it’s fair game.

      • Hw

        But what if you deleted it and FB brings it back? Not cool.

  • Lisa

    I think the new Timeline being introduced makes no sense. I have seen others that have adopted this look and it is so confusing and crowded. As a business how is anyone to actually find what they are looking for. The information looks to be all over the place. Should they not have asked the REAL USERS what their thoughts were? Isn’t that what a successful business does? Instead of the technical personnel and staff making the overall decision for everyone.

  • http://www.barnettassociates.net/ Toby Barnett

    I’ve been using Timeline since beta and after getting used to the flow, I prefer Timeline to the previous version. It drastically more appealing to the eye and seems to work smoother on mobile devices.

    • http://www.ientry.com/ Josh Wolford

      I’ve noticed that as well on mobile devices.

  • http://paidinstyle.com Robert Vayner (viral promoter)

    The big question is will companies deep inside the facebook api or the social commerce world that revolves around facebook api like the new monster (http://yardsellr.com)for example with over 8,000,000 users in still early stages HAVE A CHOICE on using facebook or not ? NO !

    Then the Domino effect hits and everyone is happy again, timeline or no timeline..

    I personally don’t like the timeline…

    Good article at the right time…

  • Kate Lennon

    “Will the forced Timeline cause users to jump ship? I doubt it. It seems like every Facebook change brings out the “i’m gonna ditch” threats. Despite this, Facebook continues to grow.”

    I was – and still am – bothered by the last changes they made on fb (putting the activity feed on the side of the page). I considered closing my fb account, but eventually decided I could live with the changes.

    But not this time. I have decided that when the timeline appears on my page, I will quit facebook and permanently delete my account. Not so much because of the privacy issues – though they are a factor – but more because of the way fb treats its users, imposing changes, regardless of what people want. I had to close two fb groups because of changes they imposed, and a fb “fan” page I’d spent weeks getting just right, was trashed when they suddenly and arbitrarily decided to change the format. Images I had carefully sized were now too big for the page. It is also becoming more spammy every day. The overwhelming feeling I get, when using fb, is that they see their users as being there to serve their purposes, whereas they themselves can do whatever they like. Well, I for one have had enough. I’ve already announced on my page that I will be permanently logging out when the timeline comes in, and I’ve sent my contact details to all my *actual* friends on fb.

    • Justin

      Great post. You make a lot of valid points. I too feel that Facebook could care less what their users actually think. They bank on the fact that they’re number one and a few lost people won’t hurt their overall bottom line. Reminds me of some big businesses I know. Complete disregard of their customers/users.

    • http://www.ientry.com/ Josh Wolford

      I certainly understand that with Facebook, you’re less of a user and more of the product these days. And some people might follow your lead and quit. I just don’t see it affecting the company in a big way. It would take a lot more than Timeline to make people leave in droves.

  • Darlene

    If timeline is rolled out, it should at the very least have an obvious feature to modify and edit what anyone can view. It should by default block all until the user specifically allows anyone to view anything. Each area should be easily modified and/or blocked by default.

  • Jim Roker

    On the issue of leaving facebook.

    People do not leave. To date in over a year of trying, I have found it imposable to quit Facebook.

    No one on the Internet that I can locate knows how, and the contact to Facebook staff that was supposed to be available for that purpose just gets a canned response to contact tech support.

    • teddyz

      Hello Jim, there is a page of how to Deactivate and/or Delete your entity. I searched their page and found the instructions yesterday. Since taking the action neither I nor my friends can find anything on Facebook about je

    • sj

      Jim this link will get you to the instructions on how to delete your FB account:

  • sj

    In the process of closing out FB account. Just give me life in the real world sans FB, Twitter, G+ etc.

    I’m really tired of the whole social network thing.

  • Homa Pourasgari

    Facebook, Twitter and blogs are all public places. People, myself included, have the tendency to over share, forgetting that everybody is watching. I try to limit the amount of info I put out there about my personal life, but sometimes I like to talk about stuff. Like it or not, that’s how we connect as human beings. It’s all about balancing of what to put there and what to keep private. Am I worried? Not really. Compared to celebrities and politicians, personal information my life isn’t all that exciting…

  • Bill

    I believe if FB wants to pursue the Timeline they should do so moving forward, if that’s what they want to do. But that they should not make it retroactive. With employers and other agencies using Facebook to gather information, this new Timeline could resurrect damaging info that had been willingly, though regretfully posted. Damaging info that could now be used to harm the respective individual. Facebook is simply trying to maximize their income potential regardless of how it effects their community participants.

    • Justin

      This is huge. I had posted later on here in the comments section that things could come back to harm people from months and even years past. I was more referring to future relationships and personal things, but I forgot about prospective employers and even current employers looking back over your page.

      What I want to know is with Timeline, is everything viewable by everyone or just friends as it stands right now. Right now, only people I’m friends with can view my pages. If Timeline makes it public to everyone, then that’s just going to devastate some people who started when they were a lot younger and who may have matured but can be harmed by something that happened so many years ago. Those things should be forgotten except by their closest friends.

  • VDOVault

    I’m so glad I got a Diaspora* invitation a couple of months ago so I now have a way to go social that I own & control. I never have liked Facebook and now my friends are finally starting to see *WHY*. This hopefully will make them move elsewhere.

    But between Google interlinking everything and FB’s latest data grab my poor fingers hurt from all the clicking to delete my data on their sites. Ow!

    PS This Timeline BS is all about scamming er ‘pitching’ potential shareholders on FB’s upcoming IPO. I plan on leaving FB nothing to monetize save my ‘I hate FB & greedy corporatists’ posts.

  • Charlie

    This is not and was not ever supposed to be about holding users responsible for what they post! It’s my page and so long as there is no nudity as per the rules then I should be able to post what I want! Facebook is not a “public” page, that is why we have the “befriending” process, to only allow certain persons to see your info. This is a case of Facebook trying to copy twitter and to fix something that just isn’t broke!!!

  • http://www.gonecountryband.com Michael Carpenter

    I freakin hate timeline…it always jumps back to the top….its a jumbled mess….it’s ok though…you fuck it up and make everyone use it..we will all switch to the next new thing….remember myspace? noone else does either…

  • Wesley Pringle

    Timeline doesn’t scare me But it will cause many to leave facebook that are on dial-up connections. It takes much longer to download timeline than the regular F/B People should never put anything on the internet that they want tp keep a secret.

  • teddyz

    I have deactivated my Facebook and today will delete it. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t like the way that it is ‘thrust’ upon me to comply with the way that Timeline is being implemented and that the participants are required to go back and edit.
    That lead me to consider why I have a Facebook entity at all. I’ve determined that there is no real benefit to the mater and thus the deletion.

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