Timelines

Perhaps the biggest piece of news to come out of f8, Facebook’s annual developer conference is the introduction of Timeline, a new design of the profile page. If you haven’t seen what it looks like, here is mine:

Facebook Timeline

Timeline is a new way of showing and sharing information to friends. The cover allows you to show a large picture that ‘represents you best’ in addition to your profile picture, and there are many new items that form the timeline, including new categories of post, and expanded outputs from applications via Open Graph. It expands the capabilities of what apps can do.

One thing that happens now as a result of Timeline, is that it is now easier to revisit older content of one’s Facebook profile. Facebook already begun to do this with the ‘On this day in 2010’ boxes in the sidebar. It has generated some interesting comments from my friends! There is a caveat to this though.

I’m sure many of you have heard of stories where employers check social media profiles of their staff regularly, exposing questionable actions to their colleagues. There are also stories of HR checking over potential employees, and that one post could mean not getting a job! While it could be said that this a danger of Timeline, it does make it easier to edit past content.

For past posts, Timeline only shows the most important posts. Obviously these are determined by an algorithm, possibly taking into account the number of responses to a post. But employers could learn quickly to find posts hidden from view, that could undermine a candidate’s standing.

I’m guessing that we could see soon the mass editing of past posts; akin to rewriting the past. You know what? It is just like the Ministry of Truth rewriting all the newspapers! (In case it wasn’t obvious, I am a huge fan of Nineteen Eighty-Four.) Timeline allows to backdate posts, allowing you to make you look like you did not have that drunken night out. I could remove all those embarrassing and meaningless status updates! The opportunities are limitless here. In fact, Timeline allows you to add posts right up to your birth date. Have the childhood you never had, at least online.

I wonder what you all think about Timeline and its potential. Would you rewrite your past? Or are you tired of Facebook constantly changing? For every person who likes Timeline, there will always be someone who loathes it.

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