Facebook’s Timeline: The Root of All Evil or Actually Pretty Cool?

Published on February 2nd, 2012


Facebook developers are constantly changing the site in an attempt to compete with other social networks. They seem to fear that one day, there will be a gravestone embedded with the words ‘R.I.P. Facebook’, just like the one held by their childhood friend Myspace. But do all these changes really improve Facebook?

The website’s latest major change was one about which some users couldn’t keep silent. The utter loathing of “this new timeline thing” was expressed and blasted across many newsfeeds. With a name deriving from Twitter’s version of the news feed, Timeline is essentially a scrapbook of a person’s life since he began his Facebook account. While the homepage, or newsfeed, remains the same, users now have the option to upgrade their profiles to Timeline. Once one upgrades, there is no turning back.

A person’s timeline displays a “cover photo”, or a large banner of the user’s choosing, at the top of his or her profile.  In comparison, the user’s profile picture appears minuscule. Under the banner there are several boxes labeled “Friends”, “Photos”, and “Likes”. There is even a “Map” of all the places this person has been. This map logs all the places this person ever mentioned being in a status, and attaches all pictures taken in those places. It can tell all of the user’s friends any places he has vacationed or lived, where he was born, and where he hangs out, conveniently placing all of this information on a map.

Facebook’s advertising campaign describes Timeline as a way to “Tell your life story with a new kind of profile.” Modeled after the types of timelines seen in history textbooks, Facebook’s timeline starts with the date a person is born. Scrolling up will highlight important events throughout the years, including featured posts and how many friends the person became friends with on Facebook a specific year. Buttons allowing friends to click on a year and then a specific month on the person’s profile likens the experience to flipping through chapters in the person’s biography.

FLHS Sophomore Brett Kornfeld has mixed feelings about timeline.

“I think that the ability to pick a particular month you did something and look it up is easier,” said Kornfeld, ”but at the same time it is extremely chaotic and hard to follow if you’re just on someone else’s timeline.”

Although Tomlinson student Brandon Gosbin has not yet changed his profile, he agreed that Timeline makes Facebook very confusing.

“Maybe I’m just not used to [the new layout]… but it’s also really confusing and hard to follow,” said Gosbin.

Despite the fact that Facebook continues to rule over the lives of this generation, it doesn’t seem as though users will get much of a say in the format any time soon. As soon as users seem to be on the verge of leaving Facebook for another social networking site, Facebook changes, hoping to keep them interested. The situation could be likened to that of a dying relationship. When one partner threatens to break up with the other, he or she attempts to save the relationship by claiming to be willing to change. However, Facebook might want to withhold its dramatic changes for a while, as many users remain only confused and aggravated.


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