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All Posts  /   /  January 26, 2012 

Ready or Not: Facebook Timeline's Here to Stay

The announcement this Tuesday that Facebook’s new Timeline will be mandatory for all users over “the next few weeks” has the media busy commenting about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Ever since the Timeline was made available worldwide, back in mid-December, users have been vocal about their complaints. A quick Facebook search on “Facebook Timeline” brings up dozens of “I Hate the Facebook Timeline” groups, housed, ironically enough, on Facebook itself. The numbers of these hater groups range from the several thousands to a mere handful, but clearly there’s a lot of dissatisfaction out there. This is borne out in Computer World’s “Facebook Timeline – Your Complete Guide,” which cited that, in a poll of more than 800 people, “88% responded that they dislike the new profile design.”

(Though, to be fair, there were plenty of vocal haters with any change to the Facebook interface – a whole lot of people simply don’t appreciate change, a fact most application and social media developers tend to willfully ignore.)

Rebecca Greenfield’s article, which appeared in The Atlantic Wire on December 15, 2011, “Everything You’ll Hate About the New Facebook Timeline” was quick to list many of Timeline's negatives: too many photos, nothing is in the right order, too much work to set it up. Because her piece was published early on, Ms. Greenfield missed one major complaint of Facebook users who hopped on the opportunity to “try it out” before the Timeline became mandatory – once you did, there was no reset button to go back to the regular profile.

The lack of privacy is among the top complaints of users – particularly with the introduction of some 60 new “frictionless” apps, developed to publicize more of the users’ activities to their friends. According to the Huffington Post’s article, “Facebook Timeline Becoming Mandatory for All Users:”
'Frictionless' apps are so named because they do not require the user to take any action in order for the app to share its information to Facebook -- the sharing occurs automatically and instantaneously after you give the app permission to do so." For example, if the user reads a story via the Washington Post's social app, and has granted that app access to the Timeline, that story will appear in the user's news ticker and will be posted to his or her Timeline for friends to see.

The article continues by stating that users should avail themselves of the new privacy settings to restrict their sharing by these new apps. And with more employers using social networks such as Facebook to locate employees – nearly 90%, according to a Forbes article, “More Employers Using Social Media to Hunt for Talent” – this is undoubtedly an important step to take.

There are a lot of articles out there that give you good advice about how to set up your now-inevitable Facebook Timeline. Some of the good ones are the aforementioned Computer World “Facebook Timeline – Your Complete Guide,” Mashable’s “Facebook Timeline: The Complete Guide,” Boston.com’s step-by-step slideshow, “Take the time to curate Facebook Timeline,” and, of course, Facebook’s own, “Introducing Timeline.”

And, one last note. As a “curator” (Facebook’s term, not mine) of a number of brand pages, I wonder at the decision to hold off on using the Timeline on pages. According to Mashable’s Todd Wasserman:
The social networking giant isn’t letting brands create Timeline pages just yet and hasn’t given a date on when that will happen. “We are currently focused on Timeline for individuals and will consider how to make consistent experiences for Pages,” says a Facebook rep, “but we have nothing to announce at this time.”

In his article, “No Timeline Pages for Brands Yet, Facebook Says,” Wasserman shows several examples of how the Facebook timeline would transform brand pages, created by brand agencies. Clearly, this is one opportunity that page “curators” will be delighted to adopt – and it’s odd that Facebook is so focused on the personal that they have lost sight of a perfect opportunity to gain more “likes.”
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