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Attention Facebook users: Timeline will soon be mandatory

If users don’t adopt the social network’s new feature in the next few weeks, Facebook will do it for them…

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shows Timeline during the f/8 conference in San Francisco.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shows Timeline during the f/8 conference in San Francisco.
Image: Paul Sakuma/AP/Press Association Images

FACEBOOK USERS WHO have been avoiding the switchover to the new ‘Timeline’ feature will soon have to embrace change – because it’s coming whether they want it or not.

Timeline becomes mandatory in the next few weeks, and will see users’ profile pages change from the established linear format to one which displays photos, video and posts together on a user’s wall according to when the content was created.

So, what do users need to know about the new feature?

Timeline is a kind of ‘digital scrapbook‘, which maps out important moments in a user’s life on the social network by displaying everything that they have ever done on the site in a new visual way – including all their photos, posts, ‘likes’, Facebook apps they use and a map showing locations where they have been tagged.

Facebook even gives the option for users to add information to their Timelines from before they joined the site, so they can go back and add photos or posts about important dates in their life – like when they graduated, got married, or welcomed a new person into the family.

Once you get Timeline, you have seven days to review it and make changes before it is made public, reports SiliconRepublic.com. This gives you the opportunity to do a bit of spring cleaning and scrap potentially embarrassing posts and photos before the new format is seen by friends. Phew.

Criticisms

Concerns about the implications for users’ privacy have been raised by critics of Timeline, as a new default setting means that any post made by a user automatically become public unless marked otherwise. In other words, if a users neglects to choose ‘friends’ in the drop-down audience selector when posting comments or photos, the information can be seen by anyone.

That takes care of new comments and photos – but what about past posts? To make sure that old information is only accessible by your friends, click on the arrow symbol at the top right-hand corner of the Timeline, select Privacy Settings – Limit the Audience for Past Posts – Manage Past Post Visibility and then select Old Posts. In this way, the visibility of older information can managed.

Users who are unsure of how their profile looks to others can check this by clicking on the small gear symbol on the right-hand side of the large banner at the top of their wall: from that drop-down menu, clicking ‘View As’ will show how the profile looks to friends and strangers.

Although many Facebook users have already adopted Timeline willingly, it seems a significant number of the remainder have an overwhelmingly negative impression of the new feature. Recently, security firm Sophos polled 4,000 users about their attitudes to Timeline: 51.29 per cent responded that the feature “worried” them, and a further 32.36 per cent said they didn’t know why they were still on Facebook.

Of those surveyed, just 7.96 per cent said that they liked Timeline – and 8.39 per cent thought they would “get used to it”.

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