Your life on Facebook

 
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It was "awesome", "amazing", promised "frictionless experiences" - and was the most important thing Facebook had announced since 2007. Even for experienced observers of Silicon Valley hype, last night's F8 event was a little much to take. And, to judge by some of the reactions so far, many Facebook users are none too excited about more changes to the social network.

But after the initial wave of fury, and threats to head off to other places, don't be surprised if Facebook is even more woven into its users' lives by the end of this year, and an even more powerful player in the media.

The fact that both new media firms like Spotify and old ones like News Corp and the Guardian were so eager to announce partnerships with Mark Zuckerberg's business last night shows they are confident that Facebook is going to be a vital way of retaining and expanding their audiences.

And however much users may say they hate the way the new newsfeed tells them what is important, or don't want to know what Spotify tracks their friends are playing, I think one new feature unveiled last night is going to be a huge hit.

The updates were announced at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference

Mark Zuckerberg showed us how the new timeline feature would tell the story of your life on Facebook - right back to your birth if you want it. Watching him show us pictures of meals he'd cooked, places he'd visited with his girlfriend, even a photo of him as a baby, my reaction - like many I suspect - was "creepy but cool."

Then this morning, using a ruse suggested by the Techcrunch technology blog, I managed to convert my Facebook profile to the new timeline. The result was visually stunning, a record in pictures and of the last four years of my life, dating back to May 2007 when I joined the social network.

There is also the option to add more photos and comments onto the timeline, filling in your history even before your Facebook "birth". I think everyone who is on the network will be captivated by the timeline idea - and then they will start to worry about the creepy aspects of this new feature.

Do you really want to be reminded of how daft you looked at that fancy-dress party in 2008? Oh dear - you'd forgotten that you'd told Facebook about the change in your "relationship status" in 2009. And now it will be that much easier for all of your friends to peruse those details of your life that you might hope they had forgotten.

So another privacy crisis may be looming for Facebook. Perhaps we will see a period of reflection by the network's users about how much of their lives they have been sharing online and a determination to be more careful in the future. Or maybe many will see it as an opportunity to reinvent themselves - after all, you can go into your timeline and change events and your reaction to them, rewriting history.

However it pans out, it sounds as though Facebook's 800 million users will be tempted to spend even more time on the site. And, for Mark Zuckerberg and his business, that really would be awesome.

 
Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1.

    The Timeline seems a bit creepy to me. It annoys me that Facebook is always telling me what I want to see, surely I can work that out by myself?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 2.

    Listening to Zoidberg last light reminded me that Facebook is a product, not a service.
    They have ignored how people use the site, posting comments to each other and made it into a scrapbook.
    I imagine a lot of duplicate accounts will go dormant and like mine those that focus on funny pics, satire and news will be cleared down.

    This will also be a wakeup on how much of your data Facebook has.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 3.

    The more features Facebook add like this, with no related privacy settings, the less I want to use it.

    Due to the recent updates I will no longer be "liking" people's statuses. I've also disconnected my Facebook account from Spotify due to the increased integration.

    Apart from status updates, I have no idea what will be visible to who on Facebook.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 4.

    Dangerous.
    If a stranger walked up to you and asked for all these details, you would likely say no and begin looking for a police-person, but you readily dump your life story into social medias.
    What happens if, for some reason, some govt decides it wants to round up all American dissidents, toss them in a place like Guantanamo, and keep society a society of sheeplings, i.e. sleeping sheep?

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 5.

    Timeline? That's already a Twitter idea.
    More entertainment? Not why I use Facebook
    More adverts? I have never clicked on any links on FB and never will.
    More photos and idea's wanted from us so they can steal from us?
    Sounds like MySpace, all over again!

 

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