Facebook’s new Timeline feature can be considered an ambitious, but not unrealistic, vision for future. A future of web, within a web. A social web within the larger context of the World Wide Web. Homepage. Friends. Videos. Music. Photos. News. Everything organized by year, month, day…
I joined Facebook in September 2006 when I got access to .edu email. If you are old enough to remember, it used to be a private network, only students with .edu email were able to join. At the time, I also had an account on Friendster, MySpace, hi5 and every other social network that popped up. Facebook was no different but there was something very unique about people on Facebook. They were all going to school with me, were students or had recently graduated. It was an online hangout place for college students.
When these same people graduated and moved on, Facebook eased its registration by opening it up to everyone. Soon, young adults in their early and late 20s started flocking, bringing their friends along with them. Rest, as they say, is history. Facebook today has 800+ million members.
In future, Facebook will be the largest player in the social sphere, with little or no competition. But, it will come with its own price – privacy. It will know everything about its users. Imagine reading a news story on Guardian, one of Facebook partner sites, and your Facebook profile posts an update about you reading the story. No clicking, no liking, no hoops. Seamless sharing, every time you browse partner sites. They refer to this as frictionless sharing which is a better name than calling it “24/7 sharing.”
Some might think that this is really awesome, but is it? What if you clicked on the article by mistake? What if it was something you didn’t want to share but a lapse in judgment caused you to click the link? No going back, there are people living on Facebook. Someone will see the update, no matter how quickly you try to remove it. Just look at the ticker on the right side of your Facebook profile. Blink, update, blink, update.
There is no solution, except caution and there is no point in quitting Facebook. I love the Timeline feature even though I have a blog and can document my entire life if I wanted to. Important events in my life are of concern to my friends, not the entire world. The preceding sentence doesn’t apply to famous people and pretenders Timeline is intuitive, user friendly and all my friends have access to it. We all have passively created a trail of events that can now be looked at and memorialized. Think death!
Keep in mind, the Facebook CEO is a young guy and will keep trying to maximize revenue by providing information related to its users to 3rd parties. Can’t blame him, I would do the same, if I were sitting on Geopbyte of user information. Diversify your digital footprint and don’t use everything Facebook offers. For e.g. use Fourquare to check in instead of Facebook.
Be smart about what you share, where you comment, what you do on Facebook and there won’t be any problems. Fingers crossed.