Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

Summary: Facebook's new Timeline profile could lead to a mass exodus of users, as profile owners discover exactly how much of their data is now in 'click-by-date' layout.


Facebook's new Timeline feature could very well be the nail in the coffin in an ever-increasing pressure of privacy matters to hit The Social Network.

Though your individual privacy settings have not changed on individual posts, statuses and photo uploads, almost every other documented addition to content is to resurface for every user who has a Facebook profile.

It's hard to put into words without genuinely screaming, or crying out of anger and frustration. So many people rely on Facebook to communicate with long-lost friends, keep up to date with those who are geographically a great distance away, or even to conduct business.

Facebook has changed the rules and its users once again were not consulted.

The 'timeline' element to the right: So small, but so much controversy

To rest anger to one side for a moment:

From day zero -- the day and minute we signed up to Facebook, whether it was last week or three years ago, the site has allowed us to update our lives with statuses and photos, video and other content each and every minute of the day.

Though there is the option to "view older posts" at the bottom of each person's profile page, it was limited. It only showed so much.

Gallery To see the new Facebook Timeline, soon to be rolled out to all users of the social networking site, head on this way. But prepare yourself for a shock.

But now Facebook has literally time-lined each and every status, photo, shared content, "likes" and every other interaction we have made on the site in chronological and clickable format.

It's all good and well writing this, but now my friends can click back to a specific date in the right-hand floating menu of the timeline, and see posts I wrote three years ago.

That status posted via my BlackBerry in anger, or a comment I had long forgotten about which had caused a fight amongst my friendship group. That impulsive message that was posted, long been left behind in the depths of Facebook, now re-emerging and semi-searchable by another.

Posts and uploaded content we thought we had forgotten is soon to be resurfaced; dug up from the graves of the shallow peat of social networking.

The Timeline is in effect the new Facebook 'profile'. As you would expect, it is a timeline of your status updates and content uploads on Facebook, with an added twist: It goes as far back as your birth, if you want it to, and allows you to update life changing events in retrospect.

In effect, Facebook has made 'stalking' just that bit easier.

Still difficult to explain to those who have yet to experience the major changes on the cards, soon to hit the entire social network in the coming days and weeks, the site will be a chronological string of what you were doing, when, how and even why.

Facebook is now a self-genealogy site, in effect.

But what I find most abhorrent is this change in direction the company is heading down. Facebook has changed the rules on what the site truly represents. It would be like a private dating website becoming a public web directory of lonely people, and marketing itself as such.

Facebook's company ethos, however, reflects in these changes. The social network is now more than just about keeping in touch, or the original 'face-book' of high-school photos. It is now clear that Facebook wants its 800 million strong user base to document their lives, from start to present, on the site.

The Timeline has clearly been thought about a great deal -- from a consumer, end-user point of view, but also from a change in company direction. Many forget, in fact, that while Facebook is a social network, there is a company in the shadows, lurking behind the scenes implementing new changes, adjusting existing settings and focusing on direction of where the social network should go next.

But the rise of Google+ and the demise of MySpace changed everything for Facebook. Nevertheless, with competing social networks, Facebook has had to change to keep up with the constantly evolving beat.

If people are either confused or astounded by the content they thought was once gone, only to reappear again, it will lead to 'panic moves'. The immediate reaction will be of disbelief, concern that their past has come back to haunt them, and it will result in a deactivation to block all content from appearing again.

Suffice to say, current and prospective employers are going to have an absolute field day.

While developers have been lucky -- in that they have had access to the new profile pages for the past few days -- the general public and the vast majority of users have not been so. The collective shock will be felt around the world; a silent disaster, a tsunami of privacy violations to sweep across borders.

I, however, accessed the Timeline as soon as it was available to developers to see what all the fuss was about. I subsequently spent three days running a constant stream of on-screen macros deleting my entire Wall en masse, in a bid to prevent my Timeline from regurgitating a period of embarrassing post-teenage angst.

What's worse, however, though still in 'beta' phase, is that half of the things I deleted were in fact not, and ported over to the new Timeline feature when I switched back. Whether or not this is merely a bug, it is yet to be seen. What is clear, however, is that many do not have the necessary skills to pre-empt the Timeline switchover, and will be left scrabbling to hide whatever they can from their extensive set of past posts.

But without giving existing users the option to switch between the two, to at least gauge how far their information will be used and brought back up under the new 'regime', will result in a last-ditch move of account abandonment in a bid to protect their past from resurfacing.

Just as was with the Twitter old vs. new divide, at least the company gave the option to switch between the two as they ran concurrently.

If Facebook wants to keep its users without a massive drop in active users, at least they should consider 'doing a Twitter' and allowing the two to run concurrently.

[poll id="49"]

Topics: Collaboration, Networking, Social Enterprise

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  • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

    No matter how many people complain about the changes going on in their facebook accounts, what they need to realize is that the purpose is to help the COMPANY and NOT the user. The purpose is to track even MORE information (in which you are freely giving). There is absolutely NO SUCH THING as "privacy" on facebook as many have already mentioned. Everything on your account is still posted to your name, e-mail, etc and even if it's private it can still be seen.

    I have been using this new social network called ONLYMEWORLD that is honestly the only site setting the USER first especially in regards to USER PRIVACY (they have an article on Yahoo! News) . I'm so glad that they DO NOT require a real name to join OR even an e-mail address. With even just ONE of those two things the possibilities are endless as to the infromation that can be gathered.

    I'm definately NOT looking forward to the changes ahead on facebook...
    • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

      Facebook isn't tracking any more information on you than they always have. Timeline is just a different way of presenting the data they've collected to the rest of the world.

      And what good is a "social network" that you don't keep your real identity on?
      • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

        @BuckedUp Don't bother. EVERY comment that talks about Onlymeworld is a paid for shill from that site that has basically zero members. No one is ACTUALLY using it. (Which makes the name of the site very appropriate.) So there is nothing to say to the commenter becuase he was just doing his job.
    • free content

      @erichuhai others have to pay for this sort of stuff, mark zukerberg gets it for free. your life is ours now.
      sparkle farkle
  • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

    Most users will not care until somebody is physically harmed or killed by a predator using this feature and that is the sad reality.

    Crud, I've used Google+ and honestly it does a lot of nice things but I can't get most of my contacts to try it because they're content where they are.

    You see, people don't like change and even though Facebook thoroughly changed the interface people will still stay there out of comfort.
    • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

      @Peter Perry <br><br>Like Peter Perry, I find much to admire about Google+ -- but the reality is that most people aren't interested in another social media network when most of their friends who are online seem to have no inclination to move somewhere else.<br><br>And, of course, with regard to stalking, we've already been through the outrage scenario when Google refused to allow pseudonyms. For many folks the thin veil of anonymity offered by FB is reassuring (even perhaps if it should not be).
      • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

        @ks2problema Most people will not change...their friends would have to change. And the groups, and the friends of friends...basically. Google+ is a day late... and missed the wave. People will clean-up their stuff and move on.
    • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

      @Peter Perry <br><br>This might just make Google+ more attractive to those of your contacts who haven't wanted to shift from Facebook.<br><br>@ everyone<br><br>I never did go on Facebook or Twitter (or Google+, yet) because of the privacy issues. That Timeline sure does look line a stalker's wet-dream.<br><br>As to why Facebook and the other similar service providers are the way they are, folks seem to forget that if you're not paying for a service (and, last I heard, FB wasn't charging users), you're not actually the customer, and the best you can hope for is that the paying customers (that would be the companies buying the mined data) might use it for benign purposes. <tittering and other sounds of not-quite-suppressed laughter in background> In short, you get what you pay for and the actual customers get what they pay for. <br><br>That's capitalism, folks, and, like liberty and democracy (and, no, those two things are NOT the same), the main thing it has going for it is that every other way of doing things else human beings have ever tried in its place sucks far worse. As in famines, pogroms, rape, pillage & plunder, and concentration camps worse. (I'm pretty sure that trying to sell you stuff IS a whole lot more benign than anything most governments would be doing to you with the data.)
      rocket ride
      • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

        @rocket ride Why would it make Google+ more attractive ? People don't like change. They certianly are not going to go to an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT site that has none of their friends on it becuase of a small change in Facebook. On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of changes, staying with the new Facebook will be a 2. Switching to Google+ would be an 8. With no friends.
    • Good luck to you all...

      @Peter Perry Right...small incremental changes that individually are not that big but collectively are huge and you all just follow...follow...follow.
      Enjoy your loss of privacy, I will keep mine AND still have friends and family.
  • Done with Facebook

    This change put it over the edge for me. I am done with Facebook. I uninstalled the app from my phone & posted a status that says I will no longer be using it. I know my action will not have an effect on things as a whole being that I am in a very small group that will take this action, but it feels good to have done it.

    Soon the timeline will begin being used in court for legal purposes, spouses to track eachother and by employers to track employees. Not for me, I'm out!
    • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

      Uninstalling the app is useless unless you also delete your account. Significantly, it takes Facebook 2 weeks to delete all your account information. Two weeks in which a lot of data can be mined and a lot of damage done by unscrupulous parties [like Facebook itself].
      • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

        What makes you say Facebook is "unscrupulous"?
      • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

        @12stringer1975 What is there is there, I can't do anything about that. But nothing else from me is going on Facebook. I will be cancelling my account in about a week once all my "friends" know I am out. Amazing how much extra time I have now that I am not checking Facebook throughout the day. Think I will go fishing!
    • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

      @tgschmidt So... you're upset that the information you put up there for everyone to see... is available for everyone to see?
      • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

        Good point! Not sure what all the fuss is about.
      • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

        @jgm@... Well this is how people think today. It is somebody else's fault that I posted all this stuff to facebook. Bad facebook, naughty facebook, no. no. Stop invading my privacy by making it easy for me to post all my life's mistakes for everyone to see.<br><br>My problem is the design is poorly planned and ignored major aspects of the facebook community. Bad design is bad design.

        I also disagree with several of the statements in the article. Some just throw me-- "demise of MySpace changed everything for Facebook" -- wha? The demise of MySpace didn't affected anyone or anything, that's why it suffered a demise. MySpace's existence became inconsequential. Facebook never even noticed it. And... "Facebook has changed the rules on what the site truly represents. It would be like a private dating website becoming a public web directory of lonely people, and marketing itself as such." Hunh? The analogy is REALLY bad, no non-existent. Nothing private was converted to public, and that invalidates every thing about the point she is making there. Blog long enough and you've written a book. Oh, wait that is changing all the rules of the game. Hunh?
    • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?

      @tgschmidt Good on you to take action. Who cares the effect on facebook, you took action for yourself and for your benefit.
  • What a shock! Stuff I posted on the internet isn't private!!! OMG!

    For gosh sake, people.<br><br>Maybe it's because I'm a certifiable online oldtimer (I go back to the dial-up BB days of the late 80s, before the WWW). <br><br>Maybe it's because I've always had a wary cynicism regarding big online companies whose business model is collecting and aggregating consumer info. Maybe it's because I've watched as FB continunously 'changed the rules of the game.' Maybe it's because I've watched while normally well-run companies had glitches and spewed supposedly private info into cyberspace.<br><br>My rule is to never post anything anywhere you couldn't stand for the whole world to see. <br><br>Have a secret?<br><br>Don't post it on the internet.
    • RE: Facebook Timeline a 'stalker's paradise': Mass exodus on the way?


      Couldn't agree more. As mentioned in other replies to this, if you don't want your business out in the breeze, don't post it online... ever... Period.