If you haven’t yet switched your Facebook profile over to the new Timeline then the chances are Facebook is getting rather insistent that you do. And it’s no wonder. It’s been 8 months since Timeline first reared its admittedly ugly head. Surely that’s enough time for everyone to get with the program.
While I’m sure some people will hate me for saying so, I think Facebook is right to force Timeline on everybody at this stage. For starters it isn’t all that bad, is it? And even if you hate it, there are legitimate reasons for Facebook to have made the changes it has made. They may not be pretty but they’re at least sensible.
Facebook has changed many times since it was first launched by Mark Zuckerberg while he was a student at Harvard. While still retaining the same core elements, the look, feel, and features have all evolved since the beginning of 2004 when Thefacebook, as it was called at the time, first popped up on the Interwebs.
Timeline is the latest big change to be made to Facebook at the time of writing, unless you count becoming a public company as a big change. Facebook started rolling out Timeline to all users in September 2011 and by December 2011 was available to all who wanted it. However, some users are still holding out, reluctant to make the switch knowing that once they make the switch there is no going back.
All Timeline really does is display your Facebook data in a different way than the the old profile did previously. Your Facebook page becomes a repository of information related to your activity on the site and the personal information you have imparted since joining. In other words this is a visual change rather than a fundamental change. That hasn’t stopped a hate mob forming to protest against Timeline.
Hated By Many
Many people hate Timeline, but then they’re the same people who have hated all the various changes Facebook has made to the site through the years. Every single time Facebook makes a noticeable change, no matter how slight it may be, there is sure to be a vocal minority whining about it on the Official Facebook Blog, forums, or bizarrely, on Twitter.
Timeline has been a particularly controversial change, partly because it is being forced on everybody, partly because it unearthed old status updates people would rather forget, and partly because of privacy concerns. While I understand all of these objections I don’t support them. There’s a reason to force change on all users, you can hide or delete old updates you don’t like, and you need to stay informed and keep on top of all privacy settings.
There’s Money In Them Timelines!
The reason Facebook made the change to the way our profiles look is blindingly obvious – money. When Zuckerberg started Facebook 8 years ago he was a student with principles and a desire to change the world. He wasn’t interested in making money from his creation. That’s clearly no longer the case, as the recent IPO makes clear.
Timeline is another sign that making money now features prominently in Zuckerberg’s mind. It presents data in a new, easily digestible way, which is great for a company that relies on that data to determine what advertising to display to its users. It also increases engagement, which in turn increases the number of times the ads are shown, which in turn increases revenue.
Everybody On The Same Page
Facebook needs everybody to be on the same page. It’s evolving and it needs its users to accept the changes. Facebook is just the same as every other website on the Internet in that it needs all of its users seeing the same version of the site as everyone else. The problem Facebook has is that its users feel their Facebook profile somehow belongs to them, and if they don’t want to change it, then why the hell should they?
This isn’t an issue the majority of other sites face. A quick visit to The Wayback Machine will show you how other sites have evolved through the years, but when they did, there was barely a squeak of disapproval from visitors. This is because on most sites people are passive passers-by rather than active participants.
Chris recently listed 10 big websites that look vastly different now than they did 15 years ago. Would anyone have preferred them to stay the same? Because that is essentially what opponents to Facebook’s continual changes are suggesting for the social network they clearly have a love/hate relationship with.
Accept It Or Move On
There are currently thought to be around 900 million users on Facebook. Which means there must be millions still holding off from switching to Timeline, even though the change of layout was first unveiled last September. I think it’s time for those holding off from switching to either accept the changes or move on.
Some people seem to feel a sense of entitlement with Facebook, as if they have a say in how the company is run. They don’t. Only the executives, employees and, thanks to going public, shareholders, have any legitimate claim over changes made and decisions taken. The rest of us are mere pawns. We get to use the service for free, Facebook gets to sell advertising and collect data about us all. It’s really no different from how Google operates.
This is a fair trade, but if you don’t agree then there is, happily, nothing forcing you to remain at Facebook. You can abandon the site, deleting your account on the way out. You can then choose one of the other sites out there, such as Twitter or Google+, or just stay away from social networking altogether. In other words – put up or shut up.
I would implore you all to stop moaning about Timeline on Facebook and beyond, but doing so is at least preferable to vaguebooking. Please let me know your thoughts on this subject in the comments section below – whether you agree with me or not. Opinion is free, discussion is good, debate is healthy.