Next Thursday, Facebook will be unveiling its new profile layout: the Timeline. Facebook’s blurb exhorts us “to tell your life story with a new kind of profile”. But reaction to this ‘online scrapbook’ has been mixed to say the least among Facebook’s 800 million users.
Previously, only the most dedicated and clinically insane stalker could find out what you had to say on June 16th, 2009. Now anyone can find out in less than five clicks. Timeline is organised in year and month format, making it a handy tool indeed for those who want to know virtually everything about their prey, sorry, friends.
And if you only just remembered that drunken status you posted about your boss back in 2008? You know, the one that got you fired? And led to your emigration to Malawi in the first place, where you managed to find that goat-herding job, despite your gaping CV? You have until Christmas Day to find and hide that status before all and sundry are reminded of your past misdemeanour.
There are even more sinister aspects of the Timeline profile. Only joined Facebook in 2009? Well, the social network simply cannot understand how anyone lived without its dubious charms. So you can now post statuses from before you joined Facebook. It’s practically expected that you will put up your embarrassing childhood snaps from before the internet was even invented.
An even creepier aspect of the Timeline is the “Change Date” facility. It allows you to change the date of a photo or event. It’s hard to understand why anyone would want to do this, or what nefarious purposes it might be used for.
So what’s good about Timeline? It allows a certain amount of personalisation- you can put large cover photo on your page. It’s a nice idea, but remember that not everyone has immaculate taste.
The beauty of Facebook was always its simplicity. The blue and white colour scheme, a result of Mark Zuckerberg’s colour-blindness, gave it a distinctive, clear feel. Now one of the most common complaints about Timeline is that it looks like Bebo, or worse again, MySpace.
Since the newsfeed was made infinitely more complicated in August of this year, traffic on the site is down. There are whispers that Facebook has reached saturation point. And by introducing measures that users actively dislike, the company are playing with fire.
Facebook may be the most popular site on the planet, but Bebo and MySpace were once big cheeses too. Maybe Mark Zuckerberg should take a look around those deserted villages before he messes with his magic formula.
This article appeared on Studenty.me on December 20 2011.