Social Media Matters

About this Blog: Kristin Burnham chronicles what matters (and what doesn't) in the world of social networking, Web 2.0 and consumer applications.

Social Media Matters

3 Things You'll Hate About Facebook's Timeline

CIO.com's Kristin Burnham switched to Facebook's Timeline two months ago--and she isn't a fan. Here's what she's learned about the new design.

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I've been using Facebook's Timeline for a little more than two months, since the social network first announced it at the F8 developer conference. Two months to feel my way around the new design, two months to get used to it.

I've supported Facebook in a number of things in the past—even during The Great Privacy Kerfuffle of 2010. But after two months with Timeline, I want my old profile back.

Today, Facebook announced that Timeline is finally available to everyone. You can switch to the new profile on your own now by visiting Facebook's "Introducing Timeline" page and clicking "Get It Now." Otherwise, you can wait until you see an announcement with instructions at the top of your profile.

While you can’t avoid Timeline forever, you can hold on to your current profile design until Facebook forces you to switch. Which is what I wish I did.

When I first switched to Timeline, I actually had favorable first impressions. I thought the design—while certainly one of Facebook's most dramatic makeovers to date—was sleek and current. I liked that I could personalize the bigger cover photo with a smaller one inset and, for a short time, it was fun to look back at old posts from 2004.

But that's where my enthusiasm ended.

Plenty of people do like Timeline, though, and of course you may consider the update an upgrade. For me, though, here's where my frustrations with the new profile lay.

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1. For some, it's a privacy nightmare.

I joined Facebook in college, way before there was even a hint of a notion that someday my parents (and future bosses) would be using it, too. One thing Timeline does is dredge up old posts—from the first day you joined Facebook—and makes them easily searchable, for everyone to see.

The good news: You have a week to hide everything you want, so take a good look and determine your privacy course of action. The bad news: Facebook doesn't make this easy. It's mostly an all-or-nothing approach, unless you want to take the time to tediously set privacy settings for each wall post you've ever had.

For more information on adjusting your Timeline privacy settings, read, "Facebook's New Timeline: Important Privacy Settings to Adjust Now."

2. It's cumbersome to navigate.

Perhaps my biggest gripe with Timeline is how chaotic and clunky the design feels after using it regularly.

Before, I could easily see a snapshot of my most recent wall posts without having to scroll too far down. Now, though, navigating through older posts is like wading through water: It'll take you forever to get to where you're going.

You'll notice that Facebook has placed a heavy emphasis on visuals in this redesign. The cover photo and personal information alone consumes half the length of a maximized browser. And the photos you post and links you share are much, much bigger than before, too. As a result, the new profile feels cluttered.

The last part of the design that bothers me is how individual posts will flip-flop from one side to another as you post new items. Though the new profiles bare the name "Timeline," it just doesn’t feel as linear.

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3. It's fun at first, but then a burden.

When I first got Timeline, I made a beeline for my posts from 2004 and 2005. While some may cringe at reliving the past, the nostalgia was fun for me. That, though, lasted only about a week.

Once that week had passed, I had a "so now what?" moment. I had played with the cover photo, reminisced and did my due diligence in hiding posts. The novelty of Timeline wore off, and I was back to using Facebook as usual, but with one change.

I've found that since switching to Timeline, I've increasingly avoided that part of Facebook. I don't have any desire to fill in past life events, like Facebook wants you to do—that's just TMI for me. And I just don't like being on that page anymore.

As with everything Facebook rolls out, though, this is just its first iteration. I'm interested to see how Timeline evolves next year, especially as more of the new social apps are developed.

What are your first impressions of Facebook's Timeline? Cast your vote in the poll below.


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