Facebook Timeline Going Live for All Users

Posted by · January 24, 2012 3:59 pm

For the past several weeks, Facebook users have had the option to “upgrade” their accounts to the new Facebook Timeline. And since then, we’ve heard both the pros and the cons. While some users have become instantly enthralled with Timeline’s more nostalgic ambiance, others have expressed a reasonable degree of suspicion toward the social networking site. In fact, public interest group EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) issued a call for the Federal Trade Commission to launch yet another investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices in light of the new profile feature.

And now, like it or not, Facebook is starting to migrate all of its users to the new Timeline layout.

In a Tuesday update on the Facebook Blog, the social site announced its plans for Timeline:

Last year we introduced timeline, a new kind of profile that lets you highlight the photos, posts and life events that help you tell your story. Over the next few weeks, everyone will get timeline. When you get timeline, you’ll have 7 days to preview what’s there now. This gives you a chance to add or hide whatever you want before anyone else sees it.

The announcement goes on to direct users to their Introducing Timeline page, where they can learn more about Timeline, as well as how to use its new features.

Reacting to Facebook’s announcement, Liz Gannes of All Things D characterized the new layout as “less catastrophic” than past Facebook redesigns. Such a decrease in overall backlash can likely be attributed to the more cautious approach the site took in introducing Timeline, including several delays, a preliminary limited release, as well as the seven-day preview period that users will have as they get adjusted to the new layout.

In addition to the layout itself, Timeline is accompanied by 80 new apps that users are able to add to their profiles. Categories of apps include music, news, travel, and food, among others. According to Facebook, these new apps will enable users to better share with their friends the activities that they enjoy.

Despite such excitement, however, Facebook’s decision to migrate its users into Timeline takes place under a shadow of uncertainty and suspicion. For users concerned that the manner in which Timeline is being implemented places Facebook in violation of the FTC settlement reached last November, the announcement could not be more disconcerting.

Ever since EPIC wrote an open letter calling for a renewed FTC investigation of Facebook, discussion of whether Timeline violates the settlement requirement for “affirmative express consent” has been scarce. And as a result, Facebook users will yet again risk being the victims of uncertainty regarding the privacy of their personal information.

  • Facebook and Google have made it clear that they will continue to push the envelope to monetize their users’ information. By now it’s probably become clear that their users are the PRODUCT, NOT the CUSTOMER. Craig Herberg