It’s no secret. Facebook is big. Really really big. If it was a country it would be the third biggest in the world. With over 800 million users worldwide, questions have recently been thrown up over privacy issues and sharing your data with companies looking to sell you their latest products and services. With the introduction of Facebooks new “Timeline” feature, is this a step too far for an already over complicated UI and do we really need to know what photos we posted on August 8th 2008? Tom Fiasco describes his Timeline experience.
TF: I recently previewed Facebook Timeline, the new story-based approach to your Facebook wall, only to find myself stuck with the new settings and faced with an unstoppable “countdown to publish”. Introduced here by the masterful Don Draper. Timeline was initially reserved for users with developer accounts before becoming available to all of us in December. Suspecting that this feature will soon be mandatory, I thought I could share my experience.
The new customizable cover photo, in addition to your profile photo, seems a step in the right direction as it allows just the right amount of customization. After a summary of your details, the timeline then proceeds to “tell your life story” in a seemingly never-ending summary of your life. From birth to the present day, you scroll through momentous life events like your first kiss and when you “became friends with [insert someone you’ve forgotten about].” You can add events retrospectively like a photo of your birth for example as well as remove those moments you’d rather no-one saw, like a photo of your birth for example. So why is it so horrible?
Facebook is useful when it helps me keep in contact with a wider group of friends and, importantly, share funny videos of cats with them all. But what I didn’t sign up for is a strange, generic public diary that attempts to summarize my life based on my online activity. At worst, this comes across as self-important and at best strangely forced. Imagine that Mark Zuckerberg bought you a diary this Christmas. “Thank You Mark!” you say, before he goes on to ask that anything you put in that diary belongs to him and can be seen online. You might be a little discouraged from using it even if it does look nice. This is why I feel that the Timeline approach is a step in the wrong direction for Facebook, landing ever so slightly on the wrong side of the line between communal and creepy.
How do you feel about the new Timeline? Will you be using it? Let us know your thoughts.