Facebook Timeline goes mandatory – you’ve 7 days to sort out your crap

25 Jan 2012

Facebook is in a mad hurry to make sure everyone uses its new Timeline infrastructure – so mad, it has decided to switch it from being a nice option to a mandatory feature.

In other words, you have seven days to scour through your Facebook history and delete any embarrassing status updates, photos or videos you would rather remain forgotten.

Timeline is the shiny new magazine-style tiled layout that creates a more visual look to your Facebook wall as opposed to the linear text-driven style we’ve learned to live with over the last few years.

The Timeline feature includes a slider that lets you delve all the way back through someone’s history on Facebook, pretty much to the day they were born.

The move ties in with Facebook’s recent launch of more than 60 apps geared to work with Timeline, from cooking to sports, music and fashion.

Facebook’s expectation bubble

It’s a nifty and stylish way to communicate who you are, but does every single Facebook user really want to offer the world an embarrassment of riches about themselves?

Also, who really has seven days to sort that stuff out? In a hurry!

Once again, I fear Facebook could be running the gauntlet of privacy issues. I can’t imagine someone waking up in a week’s time after a hiatus from the social network to find stuff they’d hoped never to see again or had forgotten is back there in all its glory would be too happy.

Does Facebook ever learn? Communication is the key to all of this and if it had at least drawn a line in the sand when it made Timeline public that there would be a point that Timeline would become mandatory then it would be a lot easier to digest.

This seems to be a mistake I notice technology companies making a lot in the course of their histories. Who can forget that god-awful travesty of an operating system Windows Vista? I remember challenging a Microsoft worker about the fact they didn’t seem to realise that not everyone in the world was issued with the same powerful computers they were. “Oh! I hadn’t thought about that,” the perplexed executive replied.

Is Facebook making the same mistake – an assumption that people either have the time, technology or the motivation to spend seven days finessing how the world will see them henceforth?

Timeline is a beautiful work of technology. To make it work as an individual you need to hone it, craft it and put your stamp on it.

Has Facebook just made the digestible indigestible?

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years