Facebook Timeline Thrusts You into the Participatory Web. Be Prepared.

Facebook Timeline
Facebook profiles are now personal timelines

Facebook‘s biggest and boldest move to date was announced last week at its f8 conference. Timeline is 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.

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Twitter Knows Me Well, Suggests ‘Who to Follow’

twitter suggested followers who to follow personalizedIt’s mid-2010 and the social web is finally getting comfortable with the opening and exploitation of the “social graph.” It likely helped that Facebook took a bit of backlash over the past few months to pave the way for the rest. And now, like any good social network should, Twitter is beginning to show the cards that we (the users) dealt it.

Twitter’s “Who to Follow” personalized suggestions can now be seen in the right-hand sidebar of the Twitter.com user web app and under this tab. This is familiar territory to anyone who uses Facebook or even Amazon. Twitter knows who you follow and who follows you back as well as who many in your circle follow that you do not yet follow. Hence the social graph. It’s a wild and crazy algorithm, but if you think about it in physical terms, we all have friends that we want to introduce specifically to other friends. And it should be assumed that by using Twitter, you hope to communicate with and discover new peers, business partners, etc.

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Twitter: Autofollow ‘sends the wrong message’

no more autofollow on twitterJust got a mass e-mail from Biz Stone explaining why Twitter accounts with autofollow enabled (this was originally an option in user settings) will no longer be grandfathered in. And in fact, there will be no more autofollow accounts.

I’ve always been mixed on this, however, I now feel that it is in the service’s best interest to disallow autofollow’s across the board. Still this can be easily circumvented using other services, such as SocialToo, which accesses the Twitter API to enable auto-follows, and — much worse in my opinion — allow users to automatically send direct messages to new followers). There is even a website — http://www.twitterautofollow.com/ — devoted to listing accounts that had autofollow enabled.

Why does Twitter discourage autofollow?

“Namely, it is unlikely that anyone can actually read tweets from thousands of accounts which makes this activity disingenuous,” the letter reads. At the same time it is a mixed message to encourage the use of Twitter as a legitimate community-building tool, without making it easier for one to follow back followers. In the end, I grew very frustrated with the auto-follow concept, primarily due to the fact that a majority of new followers (on the @LiveEarth account that I administer) appeared to be complete fakes. Especially during the month that the account was featured as a suggested user.

I knew Twitter would disable autofollow soon enough. But the mildly defensive tone of the explanation was unexpected. What are your thoughts on Twitter etiquette?

Read the full text of the e-mail below:

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