A Timeline of Facebook user privacy freak-out

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy, Social networks

Hidden story on Facebook timeline

Lisa VaasLisa Vaas

Get around to writing post about how Facebook’s decision to make old posts more visible on Timeline as the standard view is going to turn around and bite them after everybody - well, at least, this guy’s 16-year-old son - start realizing what utter boobs they’ve been in the past few years and so thus start wiping away all their most juicy, mortifying junk

Lisa VaasLisa Vaas

So I try to access other people’s past, juicy, mortifying Junklines to see what utter boobs they’ve been in the past few years

Lisa VaasLisa Vaas
9:17 pm

Only I realize Timeline hasn’t been publicly launched yet on Facebook, and heaven knows when it will, given that FB’s being sued over the Timeline trademark by a certain “Timelines.com,” thus forcing a delayed public launch and garnering Timelines.com a bucket of “Who the *&^% are you and why don’t you post more often if you matter???” Facebook page comments

Lisa VaasLisa Vaas
9:18 pm

So then I spend an enjoyable 5 minutes reading scorn-imbued Timelines.com page posts until I realize I still need to write this post

Lisa VaasLisa Vaas
9:30 pm

But it occurs to me that I really never should have solicited funding on Facebook to buy that silver sequined gown at Goodwill (being too cheap to buy it myself) in return for going out for a drink with any persons donating ≥$5, so I wonder if maybe I should sign up as a Timeline “developer” myself and remove that post and, particularly, oh God, that picture..

Lisa VaasLisa Vaas
9:45 pm

..has to come down, really, I mean, like, now, before FB settles the Timelines.com trademark scuffle and makes Timeline the standard, horrifyingly public view of what youthful indiscretions I may or may not have committed in the past.

Did I already take that picture down? Oh God, I hope I already took it down after my therapist said “You really should take it down, already, Lisa, take that picture down.”

Lisa VaasLisa Vaas
10:59 pm

Ahhh, I see, now that I’ve gained early access to Timeline, I learn that Facebook’s optimistic about a public launch on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

That gives Facebook users a decent six days to freak out about the utter demolishment of privacy Timeline is about to rain down upon us. Not that we’re all scurrying around to take down our grimy little Facebook thumbprints. As Techwag pointed out, some of us are downright gleeful that all this personal information is going to be readily available.

Like, say, the pr0n industry.

I mean, just think of it: Facebook’s going to be auto-sharing what you do. Around the Web. Not just photos or the movies you’re watching on Netflix. Your browsing paths. All those interesting little places you go, or, OK, maybe, those places you inadvertently get sucked into (no pr0n pun intended) without even knowing it.

“Imagine my surprise to see a couple of porn sites this morning using Facebook Connect, and yes, they knew who I was,” writes blogger rmorrill on Techwag.

“What this means is that if a porn site uses passive sharing options on Facebook, has ‛like’ buttons on its page or allows people to sign into their site using your Facebook details then all of that will now be recorded on your timeline,” notes the Herald Sun.

People are understandably a bit utterly completely thoroughly freaking out. Of course, Facebook has made it as simple as pie to edit your Timeline, if you like pie that’s really bad. It amounts to a grueling item-by-item scouring, a drop-down click for each item.

Is this what Facebook wanted? All this frantic zipping-up? Will Timeline result in more holistic views of your acquaintances (so that’s what you looked like when you were newborn: red and crinkly), or will users’ urge to share start to shrivel up?

Or maybe, just maybe, could it be as bad as this comment portends? From chipmason on the “my 16-year-old is wiping Facebook clean” story: “My 15 yr old said same thing ‛I hate the new Facebook...my friends aren't using it as much now.’”

Yikes. Mark Zuckerberg, maybe your personal Timeline should right about now show some rethinking on how much of your users’ personal information you choose to make public as standard.

Hidden story on Facebook timeline

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14 Responses to A Timeline of Facebook user privacy freak-out

  1. Jam-Jul Lison · 1422 days ago

    Maybe I should just go back to Myyearbook lol

  2. schmunzelmonster · 1422 days ago

    I'm not normally one of the naysayers about Facebook privacy but I was rattled yesterday when my girlfriend was offered "someone you may know" - a financial advisor who's been advising her for years but with whom she has no friends in common. How did FB know? After chatting with him, the onyl explanation seems to be that he's synched his mobile phone so that FB knows he has her email address in his phone. So she was effectively told he had personal information about her even though he hadn't asked to "friend" her. No harm done in this instance but I can imagine all sorts of damaging circumstances.

  3. Cathy Liebgold · 1422 days ago

    WHY do they keep 'improving' Facebook? It was fine the way it was several upgrades ago. If I find that my personal, past posts are being posted again, I may just wipe everything out and devote my online time to G+. Is this what Zuckerberg is hoping for?

  4. fodzoo · 1422 days ago

    the trick is simple: use one browser only for Facebook and conduct all other web interaction with another, so that the cookies do not cross infect

    my two cents - your mileage may vary

  5. Advantage of timeline: Makes it easier to clean up my profile :D

    Also it tells the date you joined Facebook, so can cut down those spam messages,

  6. SOulfire78 · 1422 days ago

    I'm heading in that direction as well. This is getting ridiculous!

  7. Nigel · 1421 days ago

    Occasionally, I find myself suspecting that there is going to be a mass exodus from Facebook, leaving only a residue of careless idiots who are oblivious to the exploitation of their personal lives. Then I remember how many people are careless about their privacy, and I realize that the "residue" will still number in the millions.

    Still, I don't condemn it. Facebook doesn't force anyone to have an account, or to keep it once they have it. Those who don't care about their privacy will stay. Those (like me) who do care about their privacy will be gone.

  8. The golden rule of Facebook: "Assume everything you post on Facebook will be public information at some point"

    It still holds, although it would probably need to be amended to "Assume everything you do on the same browser you use Facebook with to be public information at some point."

    • Nigel · 1421 days ago

      That's an excellent point. One of the most irritating things about Facebook is not so much their persistence in finding ever-expanding ways of commoditizing Facebook users, but in the fact that they do it via not-entirely-above-board methods...such as invasive use of browsing history. And they do it on an opt-out basis, wherein each new intrusion is enabled by default, and it's up to the user to know it's there, to understand its consequences, and to know how to turn it off.

      I finally got tired of it. I have an actual life, filled with more things to do than being constantly vigilant about the next new Facebook insult to my personal privacy. Life is far simpler and far more productive without a Facebook account.

  9. Sash · 1421 days ago

    So when they gonna drop the bomb on us? I'll assume Zuck and crew would prefer we don't know and just use the surprise attack tactic. I dunno, they trust me, dumb f_-_s.

  10. mark z · 1421 days ago

    delete browser cache, cookies, history - every session - before & after using facebook

  11. vectorash · 1415 days ago

    Like it or not, the Timeline is coming! Better to be prepared.

    I wrote a 7 easy steps guide on How to get your shiny new Facebook Timeline now: http://www.vectorash.ro/enable-facebook-timeline/

  12. Dave S · 1415 days ago

    OMG I am out of there!

  13. Ben · 1165 days ago

    Most users on Facebook may have come to the realization that the information they post on their favorite social network is not private, or they have just given in to apathy. However, a growing number of people are concerned about their internet privacy and are searching for a non-invasive social network that feels more like ‘home.’ One of my favorite and an upcoming star in the social networking industry is Sgrouples. Sgrouples.com is a completely private social media platform does not share or collect personal information, and when you remove content from Sgrouples.com it is gone permanently...A refreshing change from the norm if I do say so myself!

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.