Today I was allowed my first preview of Facebook’s new Timeline layout, about to replace our profiles next month. And after all the moanings of various people both on- and offline, I was pleasantly surprised by the new shiny format.
However, there is one thing about Timeline that concerns me, and that is the sudden ease with which people will skip back and forth throughout my life. Suddenly they are able to see photos, status updates and such from my past when I was obviously younger and a whole lot less mature. Click on 2006 and suddenly I am 19, fresh faced, and pretty much drinking in every photo… a-hem, well it was university. And if that’s not bad, there’s a photo on 25 October 2006 where I am having a full on Star Wars lightsaber fight with my little brother. A-hem again.
You can, sure enough, click and hide such stories from your Timeline. But the problem is that for those of us who were about 18 when we started using Facebook (around 2005/6 when it was just a bit of fun for a few selected universities)… well, there are quite a few of these stories to hide. And it seems quite hard to quickly check the privacy settings of each post.
I can tell that certain people will just love it. They will be adding their own baby photos before the day is out. It will become one big extension of how wonderful their life is shown to be online. But I think I’d rather be known for who I am now thanks. In 2011. Not 2006.
Zuck has been known to not place that much priority on social media privacy and his company suffers from a similar reputation. The idea of Timeline is to allow users to become more emotionally involved… However, considering the above, I find myself wondering whether to cull half my Facebook friends (or “Acquaintances”) and tighten my privacy settings even further – to save myself from the embarrassment of my life on public display.
Or perhaps I’m being old and boring, and I should just accept that Social Media will continue to challenge our concepts of modern communication. And everyone is young and foolish once.