Facebook Timeline - Mark Zuckerberg encourages you to be less private

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy, Social networks

Facebook has announced a major revamp, which will impact its 800 million users.

Your old profile is going to be redesigned, and presented instead as a timeline going back to when you first joined the social network, and (if you so choose) even beyond..

Most Facebook users don't have the Timeline yet, but you can access it if you're a developer. Here's what my Facebook Timeline looks like:

Facebook Timeline

Here's the video Facebook made, designed to tug at your heartstrings and sell you on the idea of the Facebook Timeline.

Curiously, Facebook has disallowed anyone from leaving comments on their YouTube video. Worried about a negative reaction, perhaps?

What may disturb some people is that the timeline is going to make it easier to trawl back through a fellow Facebook user's history, and learn information from their past, rummage through old photographs and the like. Of course, this is all information that has been uploaded to Facebook in the first place, but it will now be more accessible than ever before.

Facebook says it will provide a way for users to curate their Timeline (read: edit out the bad relationships and status updates you regret in retrospect) but you have to wonder how many people will go to the effort.

Indeed, Facebook appears to be keener to encourage you to add information, filling in the gaps from your past.

Add a picture from when you were born

An obvious concern is that by encouraging users to enter even more personal information about themselves and their life experiences, Facebook might be making it even easier for identity thieves to put together a profile about an individual, discover the name of their first pet, and so forth - all information which could be put to a nefarious use.

Tell us about the time you broke your wrist when you were 12 years old

Soon, if you let it, Facebook could be a chronicle of your entire life.

My expectation is that many Facebook users won't like the redesigned interface, and will complain loudly about it. People generally don't like change or having to learn a new way to do things.

However, although there is bound to be much resistance the ultimate proof of the pudding is whether people actually up sticks and leave the social network.

In my experience many people, although disgruntled with Facebook for a number of reasons, don't leave the site because of the investment they have already made in it.

If you're a Facebook user, tell us what your thoughts are about the new Facebook Timeline feature. Let us know by taking the poll below.

If you're a Facebook user and want to keep up on the latest threats and security news I would recommend you join the Sophos Facebook page - where more than 100,000 people regularly discuss the latest attacks.

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74 Responses to Facebook Timeline - Mark Zuckerberg encourages you to be less private

  1. Gail · 1477 days ago

    I don't like the change and will be actively looking for another social network I can join. Others are also looking. If one is found or started it won't take long before the word gets out.

    • Mik in Montague · 1477 days ago

      You don't like change... so you're going to change your social network? Hmm.. Anyway, there's Google+ and a few others out there.

      • Tanya · 1476 days ago

        He didnt say he doesn't like change..Read it-he doesn't like "The change"..so i agree it makes sense to want to change to another social network.Read b/w the lines.Hmmm...

    • Sanne · 1477 days ago

      Try Google+ - it is at least transparent about its changes and listens to its users!

    • Lesley · 1477 days ago

      Yeah, changing networks because you don't like change, sounds great! How many times will you change from your new network when they change something you don't like?
      You think if you join a new site that 6 years from now it will be the same too?
      I don't like the change either, but c'mon people!

      • google · 1410 days ago

        Google+ is just better than FB . IT does everything perfec without all this extra hassle with timelines, tickers and ads.

    • Laury Burr · 1477 days ago

      Try ecademy.com, Gail. I've been there for some while & much prefer it to FB. Privacy settings seem to me to be more flexible.

    • Kate · 1477 days ago

      Listen up people. I have found the only sure-fire way to fix the problem with all the new facebook changes.
      1) Go to Settings
      2) Click "Deactivate Account"
      3) Go outside.
      You're welcome.

      • shanghi · 1475 days ago

        I've already gone over to Google+........they have circles! :D

  2. Matthew · 1477 days ago

    Gosh, how awful; it's starting to look like Bebo from back in the day.

  3. Robinson · 1477 days ago

    Obviously, Mark Zuckerberg doesn't give a rat's @$$ about the people who made Facebook successful in the 1st place!

  4. sierra · 1477 days ago

    I love your status! :)

  5. Jan · 1477 days ago

    When is it set to debut?

  6. Terri Miller · 1477 days ago

    Mark Zuckerberg is losing control and needs to leave my life and my privacy alone....if you put me on a freakin' timelilne it will be the last thing you will do with anything of mine because I will leave FB and sue the living crap out of you for playing with my privacy. I did not sign up for this and Mark Zuckerberg does not have the right to do all this playing around with my life and my history. And I will assemble a list of people who want to file a class action lawsuit against you. Get a life Mark Zuckerburg and stop playing with mine......

    • Lesley · 1477 days ago

      Seriously, I don't like it either, but suing? Really?
      Here's a thought, leave the FREE site if you don't like it. Deleting your account will prevent the man who OWNS FACEBOOK from "playing with your privacy"
      Sue happy country...you do have free will.

      • Everard · 1474 days ago

        Deactivate your account and decide you want to go back on all you do is log-in with your E-Mail and FB password and you are back on like you never left. Hows that for abuse of privacy?

    • Ian · 1477 days ago

      You'll sue? Haha, sure you will. Let us know how that turns out.

      Suing for showing information YOU provided. Love it.

      Sounds like it isn't Mark who needs to get a life.

      • FacebookSux · 1476 days ago

        If facebook tampers with privacy settings without letting the user know, yes, the user CAN sue the company. If someone has their phone number and address on their page (ONLY VIEWABLE TO FRIENDS) and then facebook changes the privacy settings... they can be sued.

    • D.P. · 1474 days ago

      I hope you realize that the "timeline" is a personal thing. It's YOUR timeline, only visible to you and your friends, and more people if your privacy setting allow for that. Everything that will show up on YOUR timeline are things that have been posted in a public setting already, it's just making it easier to see them all. I think you are over reacting on this one.

      Maybe you should get a life and get the off of (FREE) Facebook if you are that worried about it.

  7. thatgermanmathguy · 1477 days ago

    I'm really not looking forward to this, but quitting Facebook is quite difficult for me since quite a bit of my social life happens there.

    There is also an excellent blog by Alice Marwick about the cost of "opting-out" of OSNs:

  8. Larry · 1477 days ago

    This is probably the worst thing Zuck could have come up with, but again he's really a voyeur and get's his kicks peering into people's lives and probably thru bedroom windows. I will edit out everything I'm allowed to, and if that leaves too much in then I'll lock down my profile to where only my family can see it and no one else. Currently I allow friends of friends to see my posts and photos but not my profile.

    • D.P. · 1474 days ago

      I would figure that everyone has their profile set to friends only anyway. change your settings and you'll be fine.

  9. Damien · 1477 days ago

    I really don't know why people moan so much about fb. If you don't want something seen don't put it up on a site like Facebook for all to see it's basic cop on I think.

  10. deliverydemon · 1477 days ago

    Rather than create a timeline I wish they would sort the download archive facility. I wanted to download wall posts but to get that 1.5 Meg I had to download the 1.5 Gig of every phot and video I'd ever uploaded

    • Bigalski · 1477 days ago

      At least you got the option to download your file. I've clicked Start Archive 4 separate times now over the past few weeks. It says it will email me when it's ready, but I havent received that email yet...

      Funny how Facebook seems to lose my details when I want something...

      Can I suggest anyone that truly hates Facebook go oldskool. Me and my mates have kept our private forum going for 10 years. It's free and we control all the data. We host it on our own server, but even hosting it on the free servers through the providers like forumer.com is much more private than Facebook.

  11. Jacqueline · 1477 days ago

    If I want a record of my whole life out there for the world to read, I will write it, send it out to be published, and sell it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, etc. I don't need or want Facebook to do it for me. I want Facebook to mind its own damned business.

    • D.P. · 1474 days ago

      Stop posting your whole life for the wold to see then. Or change your privacy settings, or better yet, delete your facebook. Problem solved.

  12. Terry · 1477 days ago

    FACEBOOK, the only people who understand the stupid ass changes is the morons who work for you - leave it alone dumbass, it ain't frickin' broke!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. James · 1477 days ago

    So we can assume the only way to protect our privacy at this point is by using the deactivate option instead of logout on Facebook.

    • Not quite true... the only way to protect your privacy on facebook at this point is by getting all your facebook friends to use the deactivate option instead of logout... and then doing it yourself.

  14. Sharon · 1477 days ago

    NO...I will not allow you any more access than you have now!! After the newest changes, I am about to end my relationship with FB completely...it's irritating. Decrease all the service except for the sizes of the photos...and some of those need to be smaller NOT larger.
    Sorry, FB, but I suppose I will have to find another way to keep up with friends because this sure isn't what I signed on for or anything I want.

  15. Jonny · 1477 days ago

    This idea reminds me of the Google Chrome advert where the guy sets up an email account for his daughter and sends her emails with photos and videos of her growing up as a kind of timeline. I guess you could say Zuckerberg took the privacy out of the idea and incorporated into Facebook. I guess this bad idea can only lead to The Social Network 2 movie where everyone leaves Facebook and joins Google+...

  16. Claire Charlesworth · 1477 days ago

    I can't stand these new changes, I have already De-activated one of my FB accounts & will be de-activating my other soon should it not change back soon.

  17. It is all up to the person how much information is out there and who can see it. It is no different from what you have out there right now, just more accessible to all to see in the time line form. I like the idea, I don't care for the idea of getting to know facebook once again, and I really believe that is what most have an issue with is the change. People don't like change.

  18. James Jeffery · 1477 days ago

    Hello Google+ goodbye Facebook. It seems like Mark is making it easier for Google+ to eventually win the Social Network war. mark his digging himself a grave to try to stay ahead of the game.

  19. Arthur Dent · 1477 days ago

    A lot of people here complaining about invasion of their privacy, but remember: you don't HAVE to enter all this personal data - it's OPTIONAL.

  20. Val · 1477 days ago

    Holy hell.... this is a very bad thing. The implications of this are scary and nothing I want anything to do with. If there is no way to opt out, I will not be around long.

  21. Steve · 1477 days ago

    If it weren't for the fact that a lot of old friends use Facebook and will not switch to Google+ (I know same possibility for abuse there) I'd delete my profile so fast it'd give Mark Zuckerberg road rash.

  22. I'll probably use it less socially and more for work relationships :/

  23. Thanatos63 · 1477 days ago

    Facebook has my name, and that's the ONLY shred of true personal info that they have. I don't put personal pics on Facebook, I don't list address, phone number or ANY likes or preferences.....and I keep my profile locked down tight as a nun's crotch with the candles missing.

    There is no timeline for Facebook to have on me and never will be! the only damn reason I keep my account on Zuckerttwit's POS service is because of friends and family who won't get the hell off of it, but that doesn't mean that I can't keep my profile so trim that FB can't data mine a damned thing off of it!!

  24. Here's the thing - you can already access ALL of that data. The main thing that's changed is simply facebook's presentation of that data.

    If you have already entered in say the name of your pet into facebook then nothing will change. Facebook's new look will only make that data easier to view and clearly it's making people more aware of the information that was already public (or accessible by other friends etc. depending on their account settings.)

    This is why I hate any of these types of "what was your pet's name" or "what is your hobby" security questions. With the number social networks and even just chatting with people online, people are often exposing most of this information already and it has nothing to do with facebook's list of changes. And yes, I'm that person who enters a second and third password into these kinds of Q&A security fields.

    I'm not saying that privacy isn't a concern, just that facebook's timeline specifically doesn't change the privacy of the data as far as I can tell. Someone who wanted to use your data for nefarious means will be able to get to the same amount of data with or without the new way of displaying data. You don't need the data to be presented in a "pretty" manner in order to abuse it.

    • John · 1477 days ago

      I dont think that is entirely true. I had editted all my privacy settings before they changed it so only SOME of my friends ie 3 or 4 could see anything I did. Now though I have had people seeing stuff that they souldnt be able to see and I even editted the "past post" settings, didnt do anything.

    • Community Tester · 1474 days ago

      I forget the 'secured' password(s) anyho - whether the questions are pre-made, or I write the questions.

  25. Michael Honeysuckle · 1477 days ago

    You're sharing your entire life on a free website. Say that out loud if you have to.

  26. R0nin · 1477 days ago

    Facebook (as an organization) and privacy are diametrically opposed. People need to wake up to this fact. Facebook and its partners are all making BIG money off of you and me as a commodity. The less privacy we have, the more able they are to exploit our personal information for advertising and partnerships. That's the only reason they exist!

    Just to be clear, I am not OK with this. Of course there is a trade-off, that's necessary, or else the service couldn't exist (at least not for "free".) But for FB to so blatantly concern NOT themselves with our privacy-- because that would make us less salable-- is just wrong.

    The only reason i ever joined up, and the only reason I'm still there, is to stay in touch with my family. But I find myself going there less and less often. "I don't know why I'm still on Facebook".

  27. QMB · 1477 days ago

    Wow, talk about some privacy violations! Wish they would leave well enough alone. Seems like crap like this (FB change) is an inadvertant add to try Google+.

  28. Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

    YOU FIRST. Go ahead. Share every detail of YOUR life with the whole world. Not just the parts that pertain to your "career". EVERYTHING. The names of your friends, your relatives, where you live, where you're at, what time you're at home and not at home... you EVERY SINGLE MOVE.

    Because that's what you've ask us to do. I want to see YOU do it.

    All Facebook Users

    • You do know that this is a voluntary site that you DON'T have to use right? You don't have to share every moment of your life on facebook, you can keep it to yourself. I have never once had a facebook rep at my door making me sign up for their social network. If you don't like sharing that type of information, don't put it on facebook, it's very easy.

      The facebook users who use the privacy settings so the world can't see what they are doing at all times.

  29. ERIN M · 1477 days ago

    stop changing the format all the time because every time it gets changed it is not always better.

  30. Gertrud Bessai · 1477 days ago

    We don't need any more easy access to our personal data - it is true - it is already available to anyone who wishes to search, but making it obvious is going too far and certainly not necessary to those who use it for advertising purposes

  31. Photo Larry · 1477 days ago

    So when can we expect these changes to occur for "most" users, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year? I mean I know its a free service and we should not complain about any changes but come on now, daily or weekly is too much. There needs to be some switch hidden in the settings to change the CSS style sheets to whatever *I* want for *my* profile. Yes I know its totally NOT myspace at all and the idea is users cannot customise. But I am not the average user as I am high tech with CS degree etc.

  32. codeine · 1477 days ago

    I'm already migrating to Google+. Not that I trust Google with my personal data to any great degree either mind you, but the manner in which they've rolled out Plus seems to indicate a genuine desire to work /with/ their userbase and accept feedback and suggestions, rather than making sweeping unilateral decisions about how people should use their site.

  33. Joe · 1477 days ago

    I preferred the old format, I liked everything in one stream. it's an annoyance, but I'll get used to it. The biggest pain for me is the time it will take to review and research the changes to privacy settings, and having to go back in and set or reset privacy settings. I do like that I am more in touch with family and friends using Facebook but that's all I use it for. No approved apps, no games, etc.

  34. Q Bert · 1477 days ago

    Ohhh.... Think of the fun you can have filling in the blanks! >:)
    Let's see...... Gotta add my summer vacation to krypton before it blew up :(
    Of course I'll be adding my oscar for best actor from the film "its all lies" (debut summer 1875)
    Need to add the names of all my pet rocks as some of the major influences in my life
    I'll be uploading all my funky summer pics of my party with Al Capone (Gotta love photoshop lol)

    Hahahaha.. Just think... Screw with the damn thing a show the boys a FB that if they are going to add something stupid we will use it for something stupid :D

  35. MCM · 1477 days ago

    He needs to get his act together and quit messing around with Facebook! If enough people pull out of FB, he's going to lose his advertisers. Watch him start caring when this affects his pocketbook!

  36. Peggy · 1477 days ago

    If we'll be able to hide the timeline from others, I'll be all for it. Now, if only we could hide that damn ticker...

  37. Chuck U Farley · 1477 days ago

    What a bunch of paranoid hype. People don't use facebook to steal your identity, they call you and trick you into giving them your info. Or they hack your computer, or use any number of "tried-tested-and true" methods. They don't even need facebook. There's a whole underground industry to scamming and conning people.. Go download the Anarchist's Cookbook, it lists hundreds of ways of getting peoples info and credit cards and loads of fraud scams and whatnot, and was written way before any social network sites ever even existed. You are all freaking out about facebook, but how many of you are shredding your mail?

  38. Elise · 1477 days ago

    I'm amused by how many people are saying goodbye facebook hello google+, you do understand that they are now in competition with each other, so no matter what there WILL be changes to both social networks. Not only that google+ and Facebook are almost identical in format.

    Personally I don't care much about the changes, I go on to talk to people I usually can't talk to, if you really do spend your whole life on facebook then this time line thing really shouldn't effect you, because you probably already have all that information on your profile. So no its not invading your privacy because anything that it has on the time line is the stuff you've already posted or uploaded. Mike isn't going into your house and looking through your baby pictures, you posted them!

    So stop complaining that Mike is invading your privacy, YOUR posting your privacy for everyone to see, and its not like you can't remove stuff.

  39. Kelsey Collins · 1476 days ago

    You wondered if people would stick up for their rights and leave Facebook? I just did. I moved over to Google+. I'm tired of Facebook changing the interface every month, I'm tired of them changing settings and such without even asking the users, and I'm tired of people I don't know being able to comment on my shit even after I've set my privacy settings to the most stringent possible configuration.

  40. ManjulaMB · 1476 days ago

    i like new facebook timeline. acutally i agreed with you Cluley, now Facebook is chronicle of my entire life :D

  41. Deborah · 1476 days ago

    I'll bet you that Facebook wouldn't have half the flack if they just had the decency to warn people ahead of time. A little thing across the top telling us "Hey, we are making some changes next month; here's a preview/tutorial." I HATE logging on and it's all changed.

    I REALLY HATE not having a simple, straight forward way to STOP everyone seeing posts. I don't want to see the posts of everyone with whom I have one friend in common who comments on something. If I wanted to see strangers' posts, I go look for them; now it's tough to even avoid them if I look to see what my friend is commenting on.

    I have been reading stuff for two days, and I'm still not clear on how to stop it. Is "friends only" enough, or am I going to have to decide every time I make a post?

    Change is hard, but Facebook doesn't seem to care much about making it easier. And they sure don't want to cater to the older age groups that aren't so comfortable with tech stuff as it is.

  42. fsch · 1476 days ago

    I'd like to remind everyone that each individual box on your profile can be removed, and you are able to set the privacy of it.
    Facebook also has custom privacy settings available, to specify, who should and should not be able to view anything, by name.

    If you are too incompetent to make sure everything you put on the web has the correct privacy settings, then you should be looking at the mirror instead of blaming others.

  43. Lennie · 1475 days ago

    What about the privacy acts in other countries like in canada... i know way back facebook had to change they privacy part cause canada was taking them to court over it now it is the same thing if i want people to know what i am doing on facebook then i will click the share button and let them know

  44. Vito · 1475 days ago

    The new Facebook Timeline doesn't bother me one bit, for the simple reason that I finally had my fill of Facebook's unrelenting attempts to find ways of compromising my privacy. I simply deactivated my account. I still have a life.

    Fact: Facebook is NOT the place for privacy-minded folks. Their opt-out policy fairly screams it. Every "feature" should be opt-in, and I let them know it when I deactivated my account. Nevertheless, I think the probability that they'll ever change to a 100% opt-in policy is close to zero. There are simply too many clueless people who don't care about privacy.

    I have no doubt that I'm in the minority, and I don't care. The majority's apathetic attitude toward privacy is precisely the reason why Facebook exists in the first place, and why it continues to thrive. So be it...but I'm no longer willing to be part of the problem.

  45. Mike · 1475 days ago

    Well, it's not such a bad thing, in my eyes. Mark is the CEO of the site, who are we to tell him what he can and cannot do? I mean, Yeah, it's a bad idea, and sure, I hate the new design too. But I'm sure we can all get used to it, after some period of time.

  46. Don · 1475 days ago

    Facebook needs us..we don't need it.
    Nuff said.

  47. Trisha Gelok · 1473 days ago

    Ok, so what I'm gleaming from this is that our history on Facebook, stuff WE ALREADY SHARED, will be accessible to our friends, and if we want our privacy, then we EDIT our privacy. Don't want a certain person seeing your past history? Then you should't have them on your friends list. As for 'your entire life' being shared, remember, people, YOU have to put it up there FIRST! Use your brains, will you?!?

    It states, right in that first paragraph:

    "Your old profile is going to be redesigned, and presented instead as a timeline going back to when you first joined the social network, and (if you so choose) even beyond.."

    You see there, "(IF YOU SO CHOOSE) even beyond" Therefore, it's up to YOU whether you want your ENTIRE LIFE up on there. SMARTEN UP, PEOPLE! You were born with brains, learn how to use them!

  48. Trisha · 1471 days ago

    I'm curious...is there some way that I can get the new layout before everybody else? I mean, aside from the FB Developers, and anyone else who works for FB...I'm curious about it, and although I'm not keen on the Ticker and the Top Story crap that we just got, I'm actually interested in the Timeline.

  49. Hey Zuck, I Use Ancestry.com A LOT!!

    Could you mash Ancestry.com and FaceBook into the new Timeline, automagically via OpenGraph??

    All that Ancestry would need to do is authorise OpenGraph to access FB!!!

    That way my Timeline would extend all the way back to 1363...

    All those long gone relations would populate through my Timeline...
    AND it would be no extra CURATION work and rearranging my digital furniture for ME...

    I have suddenly realized however, from TimeLine, that above all else my best option is to post more photos, comments, KitteHs, and read more news, watch moar videos, take a dump, and Oh, basically everything!!

    And offer it all automagically via OpenGraph to You to sell...

    I have been singing a song by The Police, "Every Step You Take" while I SLAVED away on my TimeLine, organizing and deleting and adding stuff...

    "Every breath you take, Every move you make, Every bond you break, Every step you take, I'll be watching you... Every single day, Every word you say, Every game you play, Every night you stay , I'll be watching you...
    Oh, can't you see...You belong to me...
    How my poor heart aches with every step you take...
    Every move you make, Every vow you break, Every smile you fake, Every claim you stake, I'll be watching you..."


    And then I visited PRIVACY!!! OMG!!! What a MINEFIELD!

    Just sayin'

  50. Zuckerberg care not about your live, he only care about the parts of our life he can sell :))

    The long expected Facebook Timeline is finally being officially released and it's here to stay! There's no more escaping this..

    You can enable it now and make sure what information is public: http://www.vectorash.ro/how-to-enable-facebook-ti...

  51. Smith · 1351 days ago

    edit your birthdate to that of a minor...the security rules are tighter. Remove everything from your profile....I never put anything there in the first place. Are the private groups going to remain private or is that going to be included in the timeline?

  52. Maria · 1309 days ago

    I have a few friends on FACEBOOK that I don't think I would have if I didn't have FB.. they are family members that I have discovered through FB.. I just don't like the Timeline..

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at https://grahamcluley.com, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley