What Will Timeline Mean for Your Facebook Journey? SITE CHANGES EXPECTED TO CAUSE CONTROVERSY

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 30, 2012 | Go to article overview

What Will Timeline Mean for Your Facebook Journey? SITE CHANGES EXPECTED TO CAUSE CONTROVERSY


Byline: KATHRYN WILLIAMS

REMEMBER those embarrassing pictures uploaded by your friends back in 2007? Well the rest of the internet may soon remember them too - thanks to radical changes to the way Facebook uses the personal information of its users. Changes to the social networking site always provoke controversy and more is expected during the next few weeks as users are forced to adapt to the website's Timeline feature.

The site is rolling out the feature which it says will allow people to give a better idea of who they are.

Although users were able to opt into the new Timeline from December 15, the feature is to become a staple part of the website, but users will have seven days to add or remove things from their Timeline before it is visible to friends.

This latest change to Facebook will allow people to access easily their friends' status updates and photographs from as far back as 2004 when Facebook was founded - but the website insists that the change does not affect users' privacy.

A spokeswoman for Facebook said: "Timeline does not change any of your existing privacy settings."

Business adviser and social media marketing expert Neil Blockley, from Treorchy, is a fan of the changes.

He believes it will be beneficial for Welsh businesses once the Timeline is rolled out for all Facebook profiles not just personal ones.

Mr Blockley, who runs his own social media management service, Neil Blockley Social Media, said: "There's nothing different in terms of content on the new Timeline than there is on the previous profiles.

"But it's a better way of managing that content, it's effectively managing the journey of your life on Facebook.

"And the security settings are still in place. People now grow with Facebook and of course that's what is happening in real life as well and it's nice to reminisce and look back. It's philosophy was allowing people to share things, a managed way of keeping in touch."

The changes have drawn the wrath of civil liberties groups, with criticism of the ease with which strangers can access information.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy at civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: "While privacy settings don't change, users may be very surprised to see what is publicly visible on their timeline. If the site was serious about protecting users' privacy, the new change would give people an option to remove everything from their timeline with one click. Instead you have just seven days to review everything you've ever shared, post by post."

But Mr Blockley said the benefits of the new system, under which activity is categorised by years on a scrolling information line, would heavily outweigh the disadvantages."At the moment Timelines are only available to personal profiles but hopefully it will launch for businesses before long," he said. …

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