Facebook faces growing Timeline user backlash

February 4, 2012 § 3 Comments

Going by the reaction to my reaction to Facebook’s new Timeline format, there’s little love for the change that will become mandatory for all Facebook users from February 4.

While the new redesign allows users to easily find content posted months and years ago, it looks cluttered and lacks the clarity of the single column look that is being phased out. But what has really annoyed many users is being presented with a fait accompli. Facebook is telling its 800 million users to like it or lump it.

When I posted my status as “I didn’t want Timeline, it is horrible” (if you haven’t already guessed, this isn’t exactly an objective post), 13 friends liked the comment and seven left comments deploring the change. There were only two dissenters. Here’s a flavour of the comments.

Noooooooooooooooooo. Facebook is forcing me to have Timeline. It goes live on Feb 4. This is a sad day. Timeline sucks.

I haven’t been on Facebook for a while and I’ve found it’s changed a lot. I like Timeline, it makes sense and it’s easy to trace things back.

Interestingly, when Time magazine technology writer Keith Wagstaff wrote about the beta version of Facebook in November, he noted:

A Facebook spokesperson assured me that it will be opt-in, meaning you won’t just wake up one day and find your profile transformed.

That’s clearly not the case today. While Wagstaff reviewed Timeline favourably, he did warn:

Post-Timeline, profiles will become all-you-can-view buffets for casual voyeurs. Load someone’s Timeline and you’ll see months of status updates, photos and more displayed chronologically. Expand the collapsed years below and you’ll be able to trace someone’s history on Facebook all the way down to his or her birth.

His advice is to:

Get used to clicking “Hide from Timeline.” You access it through the “Edit or Remove” pencil icon that pops up whenever you hover your mouse over the top right corner of any post.

This TechCrunch article is a comprehensive guide with screen grabs on how to administer your Timeline profile to protect your privacy on posts that were lost in the mazy deep of your relatively recent social past (recent because it is easy to forget that Facebook has only been going since 2004)  but now easily within reach of the surface.

This PC World article is also informative. It makes the observation that deleting and hiding posts that may now prove embarrassing or too personal will be a time consuming job. Remember that you may also need to consider all the comments that you have posted on other people’s profiles. These cannot be hidden but they can be deleted.

There is also a go nuclear solution.

If you have a ton of posts from past years that you don’t want people to see, you may want to just consider getting rid of your Facebook account and starting from scratch.

Timeline has been described as a virtual This Is Your Life. The trouble is not everyone wants it. This very recent Mashable poll shows that 79 percent of 1500 respondents say they wish it were optional.

The backlash is clearly evident on the web. I don’t like Timeline and it’s encouraging to see that there are many others who feel the same way. Facebook’s unlovable Timeline has arrived and it isn’t optional. While I might not nuke my Facebook profile, I’m already using it far less often than I used to. But let’s start a conversation. What do you think of Timeline?


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