POLL: Users Just Say NO To Facebook Timeline

Posted by · January 30, 2012 12:20 pm

After last week’s announcement that Facebook will be migrating all user profiles into the new Timeline feature over the next few weeks, reactions to the social site’s plans have been mixed. Whereas converting to Timeline had been optional up to this point, the primary cause for concern has been the compulsory character that the transition will take on moving forward. In fact, the new profile feature has created so many waves that privacy advocates, most notably the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, has requested that the Federal Trade Commission reinvestigate Facebook’s privacy practices.

On the other hand, the fact that this transition has been a long time in the making has left others less resistant toward the new feature. And by successfully utilizing multiple delays and a limited release before launching Timeline site-wide, Facebook has certainly done all that it can to help this sentiment along.

But according to a poll conducted by computer security firm Sophos, all that effort still hasn’t done enough to placate most Facebook users.

Taking to the company blog last Friday, senior technology consultant Graham Cluley provided the results of a poll that Sophos conducted by asking 4000 Facebook users the following question: “What do you think of the Facebook Timeline?”

Users who responded to the poll were able to respond with one of four answers, including “I like it”; “I guess I’ll get used to it”; “I don’t know why I’m still on Facebook”; and “The Facebook Timeline worries me”.

Of the 4110 users who responded, 51.29 percent told Sophos that they were worried about the switch to Facebook Timeline. In fact, a mere 7.96 percent actually said that they like the new feature, while 8.39 percent indifferently replied that they would eventually get used to it. The most surprising result of this poll, however, was the percentage of respondents who aren’t even sure why they’re still on Facebook, with 32.36 percent saying they don’t really have a reason for still having an account.

While this is by no means a scientific poll—a fact that Cluley was sure to add—the results still provide legitimate insight into the way that users perceive Facebook’s current trajectory.

With an IPO imminent—perhaps as early as Wednesday—the social media site seems to be showing its true colors as it seeks to raise money and achieve the highest possible valuation. In other words, Facebook’s increased enthusiasm to raise capital and maximize returns seems to be coming at a progressively large cost to the privacy of user information, even if that means blatantly flirting with the line drawn by the FTC settlement it agreed to last year.

Even if the compulsory move to Facebook Timeline doesn’t convince most users to delete their accounts—which, if history holds true, won’t be the case—it should encourage users to go to their privacy settings and ensure that their information and activity are only seen by the audiences they choose.

I once heard it said, “If something’s free, you’re the product.” As Facebook gets ready to go public, it’s important for users to make sure that they’re not being sold without knowing it.

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