Facebook‘s biggest and boldest move to date was announced last week at its f8 conference. Timelineis a complete overhaul of Facebook profiles and changes the way user behavior is reflected and shared across one’s network, or social graph. In essence, Facebook expects users to be active participants in the social web, actively sharing thoughts, photos, and more but also sharing semi-passively. What you’re listening to, reading, discovering and discussing across many websites can now be automatically archived on one’s Facebook timeline and published in real time to the Facebook News Feed.
Facebook has always pushed openness and sharing on its users and this latest innovation is bound to spark concern among users who wish to maintain significant privacy controls over their profile and presence. For users that embrace the increasingly open and social nature of the web, the distracting nature of Facebook is about to multiply exponentially.
Facebook Timeline, announced this week at f8, Facebook’s Developer conference, revolutionizes the Facebook profile as we know it, unfortunately at the expense of some pre-existing privacy settings and expectations. Timeline is expected to replace all user profiles by September 30th (you can opt in early at the bottom of this page).
All users’ birth dates appear on a user’s Timeline regardless of settings. Even if you choose to disclose only the month and day of your birth (and not the year), your age can still be approximated as a result of its appearance in the context of the Timeline.
It seems every social network overextends its privileges with users once a year if not more. In the past the culprit has most often been Facebook, changing its Terms of Service and upgrading its platform to create just a bit more vulnerability for its users. It’s become an almost humorous pattern of overreaching only to retreat slightly in reaction to inevitable user outrage.
LinkedIn launched its own social ad network, which utilized users images and profile information in advertisements that would be served on the site, presumably to their contacts. LinkedIn really should have seen this coming — a few years back when Facebook did the same thing it experienced a user backlash.
What’s the fuss? Social network users expect the opportunity to select whether their likeness is used for profit. In both Facebook and LinkedIn’s case, users were initially opted in to the ad programs by default.