Monday, March 26, 2012

The Unavoidable Dilemma: Facebook Timeline

By Miriam B. Medina

'Ah, the times they are a-changing,' as Bob Dylan might say, or sing. For Facebook fans, like it or not, the timeline, well, it is changing. As a consequence that fact has many Facebook users ticked off, but the verifiable truth is most people just fear change, they don't understand the timeline changes and what they're all about. As a result of the national survey that Facebook itself took a few months back, they found that 84% of polled Facebook users don't like the mandatory timeline changes. These changes will take effect if you take no action as of March 30th, 2012. So why is Facebook forging ahead with the project?

1. They're going public and need to solidify their format.

2. They argue that people hated the tab and apps installation they instituted several years ago, which is now their most popular feature.

3. They believe the timeline feature is the natural evolution of Facebook, a social website that chronicles you as a person, your history, your personality and your likes and dislikes. Now they can preserve YOU for generations to come.

The fact is, most people fear change, and much confusion surrounds this timeline change for Facebook. Facebook is now a hugely popular site, with well over 30 million users. You can imagine that this makes for a difficult time for Facebook's servers and coders. Imagine all of the maintenance that comes with each and every change you and MILLIONS of other users make with their Facebook pages. The timeline feature locks in a front page template that is uniform in style, not in substance, takes less server space, and keeps whatever you put on Facebook there for years to come.

This thought terrifies people, because, they say, it invades their privacy, but in fact, it does the exact opposite. People fear that the ugly argument they have with their boyfriend or girlfriend will be forever saved, open and bare, as mud flings back and forth in Internet limbo, over and over again, while the zinger you made on your Facebook profile about his or her mother dangles precariously over the Internet for everyone to see, including his or her mother, eternally. But that isn't exactly the case. The argument WILL be there forever in theory, assuming Facebook lasts forever and is relevant forever (just ask MySpace about the likelihood of that), but you can choose who you want to see it, or if you want anyone to see it at all. You actually have more control over privacy as to what people see on your Facebook profile, it just takes a little more effort on your part.

More than that perhaps that is what people hate. More effort means more work. You actually can control the posts and pictures and comments that everyone sees on your Facebook with the new timeline feature, but you'll have to be vigilant as to what you do. If you delete something, it will be permanently gone. If you lock a post so only you and the poster can see it, it will be locked until you let it go, unless, of course, it is copied and pasted elsewhere by the poster, so others can read the exchange. Nonetheless, there are holes in every theory, aren't there. Yet I'm sure Facebook will plug these holes as they arise. That's part of running a business on the Internet, the times and the technology, they do change. However, trial and error and improving products is what business has been about forever. Perhaps the more things change, the more they stay the same. In this regard, Facebook has been the best social network site available for years. Hopefully that stays the same. Us Facebook fans will just have to work with them as the new timeline feature is instituted.

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Miriam B. Medina is an expert author at Diamond Level with

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