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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  • FB user

    I’ve worked for – FORTUNE 500 companies – so what happened to asking the end-user what THEY want ?!! I also find it extreme unsettling that there is NO way to reach them. No support line, no phone #, no direct email afforded me. grrrr. My page has been hacked saying i friend-requested people i dont know. WHICH IS BLATANTLY untrue ! anyway, isnt this a social media forum? I have seen pages where they have 5,000 friends (maximum allowed = oxymoron] – do you really think they know them all intimately??? How dare you use my personal info for marketing purposes ! we are in a litigious society and i will find a way to sue them for $16 million ! The arrogance of them !

    PS – Anyone know how to report, rectify, unhack LOL, my account ? I havent asked anyone to be my friend in several months and refuse to sign an agreement stating “i will agree to no longer friend-request people i do not intimately know…” I find this EXTORTION/BLACKMAIL ! PPS what about musicians pages, entertainers who want to reach out further to the public? Their policies seem to be contradictory. ANY COMMENTS ON ALL OF THE ABOVE ? Please let me know. Thanks.

    • Bull Sh*t

      to un-hack…lololol The best option is to PERMANENTLY DELETE your account and move on with life.

  • Donna Miller Yanego

    I enjoy reading Facebook and hearing about old friends and current friends their fun activities, unfortunate life happenings, but I don’t like being forced to become a member of anything. At my age I take every on line step cautiously. So forcing timeline is bullying me. You should give choice. I want to participate on Facebook, please keep it user friendly.

  • G. Barlow.

    i do not know anything about Face Book. Should I ?

  • Bull Sh*t

    The only reason I even use facebook is for my business. I deleted my acct(s) well over a year ago when “roll-outs” (maybe a better term would be “milking the product for all its worth” (product=user)) became an all to familiar scene, similar to the first massive social media failure, myspace. The idea of someone other than myself having access to my shopping, reading, music, movie, sports, hobby, exercise, gaming, ad infinitum, habits and preferences, is just too much. “They will know what you want before you do,” line I keep running into is a clue, (to which most people don’t have (in this matter of privacy,)) that no matter how much you censor you decade old posts, pictures and “likes,” from other people, the ones you really want to keep in the dark are anything but. This is no longer a social media site whos’ primary mission is to facilitate networking, but a MASSIVE experiment in social control. Face book has been selling private information of its users to rouge factions and “friendly” governments for some time now (http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/6479935/Facebook-is-security-agencies-dream) And while all the information, every click, like, and keystroke have always been stored, (and available to aforementioned)the timeline being forced down our throats now is a way to back log your private information to points much senior to the inception of the site (i.e. your birth in 1963….) This will allow for a broader data set for the algorithms to mine. The big thing is that information you deem unfit for your profile(most likely posted by others,) may be deleted on the spot, FB still has the info, and can further determine what you are going to do, buy, say next. Put it this way, if I have privileged information about a friend, and a opportunity came up where I could persuade/dissuade ONLY because I have this private information, would the friends decision be made by their own “free will,” or would this be considered coercion? Now scale this up to the 800 million active FB users…Sca-ry!! Leave now and restore your free will, or be doomed to sheepdom.

    • Bull Sh*t


  • http://internet.underceej.co.uk The Ceej

    There is one good thing about Timeline. That is it will kill Facebook and this social networking fad will be over. And, to that, I say, “About damn time.”

  • http://yahoo clara jean rossi manning

    i dont like the time line i would like my old face book back please , dont know how to change it please help , my friends and family are on the old one ,is everyone going to be on timeline or just soom ,,,

  • http://yahoo clara jean rossi manning

    i dont like the timeline would like my old facebook back cant figure it out , my friends and family are on the old one ,, will wveryone be changed to timeline ,,

  • http://yahoo clara jean rossi manning

    dont like timeline please give me my old facebook back to confusing

  • S Darko

    Facebook is Big Brother.

    Don’t use it – don’t sign up for it – don’t let your kids use it – it is not what you think it is – it is going to be used to the wrong reasons – If Hitler had had Facebook, do you think it would be considered ‘benign’? When has any government let alone a so called private company had access to so much personal information? Do you think that is innocuous? Innocent? Very naive thinking. Where is the healthy and necessary scepticism that is needed about this very dangerous information tool? People, wake up. Facebook is Big Brother. Don’t get an account, don’t put your info on it. If you value any privacy at all that you may think you have, stay away from facebook. And teach your children. Do you think it is an accident that the ‘founders’ went after the young and innocent who have no idea of what governments and centralized information systems did to people all over the work throughout history? Facebook is a cross between something Nazi Germany and Stalin’s communism would have invented and been very very happy to have in its hands. Don’t think it could happen here? Just let there be more people out of work for a longer period of time and the people start rebelling in the streets. Once there is political unrest, the Big Brothers in our culture will definitely find a way to track down what they need to know through facebook. Knowing what went on in Nazi Germany and the midnight knocks on the door or in Soviet Union for people who happened to not belong to the right party or to express opinions that were not considered acceptable, well, be careful people. You’re setting your own traps and they are pulling you into them.

  • Dan

    I closed my FB account a few weeks ago, when they switched me to Timeline. I hate the TL format, and there was no way I was going to use it. But I’m also 46 years old, and FB is mostly used by younger people. I’m one of those people who refuses to get a mobile Internet device such as an I-phone or Blackberry…I find those things are more of a distraction than of any practical use as far as time management goes. I also find myself exasperated with the speed of technological development…things are getting more complex and require more and more of my time to learn how to use them. I tend to react against that by refusing to waste my money and time on such things. Leaving FB brought me a sense of liberation.

  • Jill

    If looking for something that will help the anti-timeline cause, everyone should “unlike” all of their likes (ie; pages for products we use, items we buy, and so on) until the option is given by FB to have the old format back. The people that pay fb (the advertisers) have alot of the control, those that are connected with FB are just a “product” to these advertisers. To make a point, a big dent would need to be made in the money belt. If for example by June 1, fb users don’t get the option to want timeline or not, they start pulling the plug on the companies that they support. If these companies start seeing how much dislike there is for timeline and since they have more “power” economically, so to speak, to make the change fb users are looking for, then it is more likely to get what is wanted. The advertisers NEED the fb users. If fb users aren’t interested, the advertisers will want to know why. If they understand it is because fb users do not want the new timeline, they will figure a way to get their support back ie; putting the pressure on fb to give the freedom to choose the format that is preferred for each individual.

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