Monday, 30 January 2012

Another day another Facebook privacy issue, but this time have they gone too far?

Until now, Facebook’s Timeline has been voluntary, but Mark Zuckerberg has announced that in the next seven days the feature will become compulsory and users will have seven days to delete any unwanted content before it’s laid bare for all to see. 

 The social media giant’s Timeline was first rolled out last year , and users have been given the chance to have a play with the new features before committing, but recent movements have sparked concern about privacy on the network, with many users unhappy that their every move is being put in a virtual museum.
Zuckerberg announced the changes during last September’s f8 Conference and insisted that people wanted to ‘share their entire lives’ and have ‘total control’ over how users’ content appeared.  His argument was that people are now documenting their entire lives on Facebook, but once the information falls off the current profile page, memories are getting lost; hence the invention of Timeline.

It can’t be denied that people are investing an awful lot in Facebook in terms of conversations, photos, videos, etc, (which is one of the reasons I think Facebook will be around for a long time to come) but is part of that appeal the fact everyone is exposed to your movements? Or is it simply because you and a chosen few can access it, on the occasions you need to? Some comments being bandied around are very black and white – if you want privacy, don’t have a Facebook account. But now that people do have this sentimental investment in the platform, it’s not that easy to just deactivate your account. I’m sure most of the 800 million users enjoy their Facebook account, but they don’t necessarily want to share every single element of their lives with the world.

I jumped on the Timeline bandwagon fairly early (and I admit it took me a while to get used to) but none of my Facebook friends seemed to follow suit, and still now there are only a handful that have embraced the new look, which suggest most remain cautious.

Privacy issues aside, my fear is that some users will try and ignore the imminent change and in seven days time will have a profile full of information they’d rather have kept hidden. Another concern is that the Timeline feature is radically different to the existing layout - previous changes have riled many users, but they haven’t actually forced huge changes. I’m not sure every Facebook user is going to fancy getting to grips with something so different.

For me the jury is still out, and only time will tell if this latest move will be a success, or whether this time Facebook has gone a step too far.


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