Facebook, “The Timeline Version” Ends Privacy Permanently

Here’s what my Facebook profile looks like right now:

Old Facebook Profile

And here’s what it’s going to look like in three days:

New Facebook Profile

Isn’t that new version pretty? Doesn’t it make you want to use Facebook more and more and share stuff and stay engaged, be all about social networking, and tell the world everything there is to know about you? Go ahead, blab it up. Facebook already knows a lot, is about to know more, and there’s almost nothing you can do about it.

I hope you’re good at being pragmatic, because otherwise the rest of this story is going to be a problem for you.

The new Facebook is very different from the Facebook that’s existed since day one. I have to hand it to Zuckerberg and Company; Facebook, The Timeline Version may not really change all that much about the marginal utility of a service that’s so broadly unfocused that it shouldn’t actually appeal to anyone, but the presentation is so appealing and so much less cluttered that Facebook/Timeline feels … welcoming. I still believe Facebook is too broad, but Timeline makes a big change to one very important thing:

Timeline Facebook is All About You. It’s More Egotistical. Your Friends Don’t Matter

Want Proof? Look up at the two pictures. See that tiny link to your friends on Facebook/Timeline? See how much more room your friends got in Old Facebook? Facebook is all about you. And as slimy as talking about a you-centric world might feel, the truth is that by making Facebook a place where your focus is on something—anything—Facebook becomes more accessible.

Great news. Seriously. If you’re going to spend 7% of each day on Facebook anyway, at least knowing why you’re there is valuable.

Now, the downside.

The new Facebook makes maintaining any sort of control over your online presence all but impossible. I’ve mentioned before that privacy as an idea might have run its course, that defining privacy is all but impossible anyway, and that if you think you can cover your tracks you’re likely going about it the wrong way. But in playing with Facebook/Timeline over the last few days I’ve come to understand just how futile the idea of maintaining your privacy has become—and that it’s about to get way harder.

Read this piece at Lifehacker. It’s a great explanation of how Facebook tracks your movements and how with OpenGraph, the Facebook-developed technology behind Timeline, you have almost no chance of shutting off Facebook’s access to your movements OR STOPPING ANYONE WHO YOU’VE EVER “LIKED” FROM POPULATING YOUR FEEDS WITH ADVERTISEMENTS AND SHARING THE SAME WITH YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS.

Is Facebook “going to” use your information that way? Are advertisers going to? Nah. Just ask them!

And with companies like Spotify now REQUIRING that you use a Facebook ID to join their service, it’s about to become pretty much impossible to avoid Facebook, so if you were thinking that Timeline was just the impetus you needed to stop using Facebook, or you were still patting yourself on the back for staying away from Facebook and social networking, well, think again.

In playing with Facebook’s Timeline, I’ve been forced to change how I look at the service. My profile is now a bit more complete because one of my friends from High School tagged me as such and with Timeline having prodded me to include educational information on my Facebook profile, I’ve A) allowed the information to populate and B) gone on to include my college education, too. I’ve uploaded a couple of pictures, and friends have responded, “LIKED”, and commented. I’m USING Facebook. And as implausible as this seemed up until now, I may even continue to do that.

Resistance, it seems, is Futile.

Now please, keep in mind that you’d still better watch what you say on Facebook, and you still need to be sensitive about the things you say about other people. But it’s looking more and more as though you’re going to be friends with Megan Fox and Lady Gaga some time soon.

The business change? More than ever you need to take social networking seriously. Still not in the game? Contact The Answer Guy. We’ll get you rolling in the right direction.