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Relax, Facebook Timeline Paranoia Is Misguided

Everyone seems to be all in a tizzy over the impending switch to the new Facebook Timeline layout. It's going to be OK people

The Facebook Timeline is coming whether you like it or not. I have been using it on my personal Facebook profile since it was offered as an option, and I like it. But, with the mandatory switch to the Timeline coming imminently for all Facebook users, a survey from Sodahead.com finds an overwhelming majority are opposedto the new layout.

Specifically, the survey discovered that overall 70 percent dread the mandatory switch to the new Facebook Timeline layout. Younger respondents were more likely to approve of the new format, but even the 18 to 24 year olds – the most receptive demographic segment – maxed out at 30 percent.

What is the big deal about the Facebook Timeline? I think those opposed to the new layout are confused on a couple crucial points. First, the Timeline is not exposing any posts, photos, or information that aren’t already out there. News flash: if people can see it on your Timeline, then they could already see it anyway. Facebook isn’t hacking into your life and dredging up secrets you don’t wish to share. It is simply delivering the content you have already shared in a different format.

Second, you control who sees your posts. Facebook has always provided controls that let you choose who a given post or photo is shared with, and nothing about Timeline is going to change that. As you post new content on Facebook, you can choose to make it public, share it only with the friends in your Facebook network, limit it to specific lists of friends you have created, or customize precisely who should see it.

Personally, I find the Facebook Timeline makes Facebook more engaging. The current (or old in my case) format is linear and boring. It doesn’t help you actually be social with those in your Facebook network, and if a given post isn’t on the first page you’ll likely never see it. It is awesome to be able to view a friend’s Facebook profile, and scroll through the Timeline to learn or reminisce about major life events.

The bottom line is this: if the Facebook Timeline exposes anything that you wish others wouldn’t see, the fault is yours for not applying the appropriate privacy controls in the first place.

The hoopla over Timeline is just like every other change that has occurred on Facebook. People just dislike change. There is generally some vocal backlash, with calls to boycott and petitions to roll back the update, and then everyone gets used to it and the protests fade away.

Eventually Facebook will make some new change that tweaks or replaces the Timeline, and many of the same people throwing a fit about being forced to switch to the Timeline will be the same ones whining about how much they love the Timeline and hate the new changes.

Embrace change. Rinse, and repeat.

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