Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new Facebook layout with a lot of new features, including an ultimate timeline of sorts, including every event and post that a person has shared on Facebook.
Full disclosure: I don’t use Facebook as much as I have been. I’ve trimmed my friends list to about 375 (down from 600-ish at its peak) and I don’t post as often. I’m in a long-distance relationship (more or less), but you wouldn’t know it from my profile.
The front-page news ticker Facebook has now is a little too much information for me. I really don’t need to know that someone is listening to something or gave a thumbs-up to someone’s keg party recap. Many of the new features Zuckerberg highlighted involve automated posts, meaning that a lot of what you do will end up on your profile whether you want it to or not. Some of what you see in your own feed comes across like overkill, too.
The master timeline seems cute — imagine being able to chart your relationship, your engagement, your wedding and the birth of your first child. On the other hand, imagine scrolling back on your boyfriend or girlfriend’s timeline and seeing inevitable updates about their exes, the good and the bad.
Let’s be clear: This is first and foremost about maximizing data compilations for ads revenue. I don’t begrudge Facebook its (substantial) income, nor do I resent seeing ads on my profile (well, I might resent seeing weird dating ads). I just think that people should better educate themselves about what they’re putting out there, and Facebook might do better to make some modicum of privacy the default setting, instead of sending you on a wild goose chase for your security settings.
Of course, if you’re after absolute privacy, Facebook isn’t for you anyway. It seems though that users are putting a large amount of blind faith into the company, fawning over it and not holding it accountable for its actions. Who’s to say that the Facebook habits that feed us specific ads won’t one day give away our political philosophies? If an algorithm exists to give us dating, shopping and travel ads, it can exist for more nefarious things.
The key is for Facebook users to educate themselves and know exactly what they’re sharing and how to modify their profile security. In the end, the person responsible for keeping you safe on Facebook is you.