Facebook announces New Profile – but is it better? bigger? safer?

Facebook’s roller-coaster ride through cloud computing continues apace with the announcement earlier today of the New Profile. (In case you’re wondering about that opening metaphor: Facebook is the ride. You are the rider, and you’re paying for the privilege with the information you upload.)

Like the new Facebook messaging system announced in mid-November, ambitiously dubbed ‘Fmail’ by some, and even touted as a possible spam killer by ueberblogsite Huffington Post, the New Profile is not something which is being rolled out to everyone at once.

For a site with 500 million accounts (sorry, Facebook, they aren’t all users, and repeating it over and over as if it were a fact won’t make it true), rolling out significant changes of this sort over a period of time is a wise operational move.

Also, of course, it means that if the New Profile receives the same sort of response as New Coke did back in 1985, it’ll be easier and cheaper to revert to the old style.

The burning question, though, is not whether the majority will like New Profile, but whether it will be better and safer.

I’m in two minds about these changes, not least because Facebook seems to be taking the opportunity to persuade its users to commit yet more information about their day-to-day lives to the social networking juggernaut.

For example, the official About Profile page urges you to Share your experiences, to Discover common interests, and to Highlight meaningful relationships:

"...Give a more complete picture of how you spend your time, including your projects at work, the classes you take and other activities you enjoy (like hiking or reading). You can even include the friends who share your experiences."

"...Your top interests now appear as a row of images — just drag and drop to put your favorites first."

"...Relationships with close friends can be just as important as family. Now you can highlight family members and the other key people in your life, like your best friends or coworkers — all right on your profile."

By all means, embrace the New Profile. But don’t rush into sharing ever-more information with ever-more people on Facebook.

Information about your life and lifestyle is much more use to identity thieves, cyberscammers and fraudsters than it is to the average person you might think of as a friend on Facebook.

Be careful out there.