From the minute we choose to be a part of Facebook, the social site lets us update small details of our lives – each and every minute of it – with succinct statuses, personal photos and videos. Though the option to ‘view older posts’ is there at the bottom of each profile page, it would only show so much. Their relevancy and context obviously changes with passage of time. Fragments of your personal life, which you proudly flaunt today, is something that you might want to keep out of the public realm.
But now the social site has literally time-lined each and every status, image, shared content, ‘likes’ and every bit of interaction made by you in chronological and clickable format. So now one of your friends, though you might not appreciate it, can quickly click back to a specific date in the right-hand floating menu of the timeline, and easily check your earlier updates.
Will timeline hurt your privacy?
There have been extreme reactions to Facebook timeline. I was just reading a column by Zack Whittaker (A ‘stalker’s paradise’ – Mass exodus on the way?), hinting that Facebook’s new feature could be the nail in the coffin in an ever-growing pressure of privacy issues to hit the networking site. Though individual privacy settings have not undergone a change on individual postings, statuses, photo uploads etc, most other documented additions to content are to resurface for every user having a Facebook profile.“So many people greatly rely on Facebook for communicating with long-lost friends, staying up to date with those some distance away, or even for conducting business. It changed the rules once again without consulting its users,”
As the columnist points out,“It is a timeline of your status updates and content uploads on Facebook, with an added twist: It goes as far back as your birth, if you want it to, and allows you to update life changing events in retrospect. In effect, Facebook has made ’stalking’ just that bit easier. The site has changed the rules on what it truly represents. It is now clear that the networking platform wants its 800 million strong user base to document their lives, from start to present, on it. And many do not have the necessary skills to pre-empt the timeline switchover, and will be left scrabbling to hide whatever they can from their extensive set of past posts.”
Facebook’s idea behind timeline
However, Facebook looks at the whole exercise from a different perspective. The idea behind introduction of timeline – a new kind of profile – as it explains, is to give users a space for all the great stories already shared so that they don’t simply vanish even as new stuff gets added. Timeline is intended at rediscovering everything you shared, and compiling all your best moments.
The site has announced putting into use a new kind of social app, which allows users to display the things that they like to perform on their timeline –the recipes you try, the music you listen to, the runs you take and so on. These apps let you find out what one of your friends is up to, and also join in if you wish: play the song he or she is listening to, or see the same sitcom.
Apart from these significant changes from an individual user’s perspective, the changes to Facebook – specifically timeline and the News Feed also have significant implications for brand managers and marketers. Which are they? What’s your take?.