Social Media

Timeout for Facebook

Facebook Timeline: it’s coming! What young professionals should know and watch out for with Facebook’s massive change.


Mark Zuckerberg is shaking the world of social media up yet again.  He announced the launch of Facebook’s “Timeline” last September.  It will finally go live as the default profile for all 850 million users on December 22, 2011; until then users will have time to tinker with their profiles from now until Thursday.

Your Timeline

The most noticeable feature on the profiles of those already using timeline is the presence of a large “cover photo” at the top of the redesigned profile page.  As well, the old wall has been replaced with a page featuring highlights from the user’s activity. Video, photos, status updates, links and more are now displayed by year and by month, going as far back as a user’s birth date.

Users will also be able to feature particular stories they feel are meaningful in their lives, while being able to use applications to play music, movies, and other social apps directly on their profile page.

The Problem

Every time Facebook unveils major overhauls privacy is the main concern.  In the past Facebook management have been forced to go back and make drastic privacy changes in responding to the outcries of users.  The major problem with Timeline is that it ambushes unprepared users with a flood of suddenly private information.  The most striking example is the easy availability of years of wall posts many users forgot about because they were effectively out of reach.

Facebook has promised that any posts that had the privacy setting set to “friends” would remain so; however, this does not allay the concerns of a large segment of more sophisticated Facebook users.

When Facebook unveiled the ability to create lists of friends and tailor posts so only some lists or friends could see them many users jumped at this opportunity.  Millions had accounts with varying degrees of privacy based on how close certain groups of friends were.  Some could see the wall, others a limited profile, and others still could fully interact with the user.  Many young professionals undertook the time-consuming process of tailoring Facebook to ensure a respectable online image.

The Fix

There are two options for those caught in the privacy conundrum: the first is to go through one’s timeline and prune every post to ensure appropriateness.  One can do this by going to the “activity log” at the top of the profile page and choosing the gear icon.  This is time consuming, but will be effective to a certain extent.  A word of caution: privacy can only be limited to posts that came in after the major changes to groups and privacy settings.  Other posts from 2005-2006, for example, are more difficult to tailor.

The other “nuclear” option is to delete one’s account and start again.  Doing so avoids the time consuming process of editing potentially thousands of posts over a number of years but may result in having fewer Facebook friends and losing some old content.  This option is the most sound for those concerned that the 2005 them does not reflect the late-2011 professional them. Not only does occasional ‘friend pruning’ never hurt but going “clean slate” is strangely refreshing.


Overall, Zuckerberg’s ambitious plan with Facebook Timeline is a positive step for the ultra-competitive world of social media: “innovate or die” is a great motto in the wild world of the Internet.  Once privacy concerns and the normal bellyaching caused by a resistance to change by Facebook users settles down Timeline will be viewed as a positive innovation.  Timeline helps Facebook become a truly social networking site by giving user the ability to interact with their friends in a more total way.