The Dangers of Facebook’s Non-Optional Timeline

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The Dangers of Facebook’s Non-Optional Timeline

Facebook-Our-Dumb-Readers“OMG, I’ve been Timelined!” is becoming a common lament among Facebook users these days. Facebook is making a sweeping user interface change that:

1. Is mandatory for both business and consumer pages

2. Entices consumers into capturing and sharing life events for easier data mining and target marketing

3. Encourages users to adopt applications that log their actions in the virtual and physical worlds

4. Is promulgating a de facto standard API for defining actions and objects on the Internet

5. Seduces Facebook users into violating their friends’ privacy without their consent

Your Facebook Page Will Be Converted Automatically. Every business page on Facebook will be converted to Timeline by March 30, 2012. So whether you made the necessary changes or not, your pages will have been “Timelined” on March 31. (Facebook is avoiding April 1st because this is no joke!) Consumers’ Timelines aren’t optional either, but no actual deadline has been given. Instead, what happens is that if you download the version of an application that automatically posts to your Timeline (like Spotify, Pinterest, Goodreads, Pose, The Onion’s Our Dumb Readers, Nike’s FuelBand iPhone app, Vevo), your Facebook page may be automatically converted (there is a warning that this will happen, but many people don’t seem to notice it). Or a consumer may ask to Preview the Timeline that Facebook will automatically generate for her and that triggers a seven-day clock that allows you to make changes to your Facebook page (including finding and uploading a compelling photograph for your “canvas”—the large photo that is your billboard at the top of the page). There are a number of things you’ll really want to do before that conversion happens (or immediately thereafter, if you’re caught off guard).

Timeline Is Much More Than a UI Change. This isn’t just a new interface that we all need to get used to. Facebook’s Timeline is a seductively disguised forced march for users, marketers, and developers to adopt its OpenGraph application platform. This platform creates a de facto standard for:

1. Logging on automatically to tens of thousands of websites and applications (using Facebook tokens through OAuth)

2. Giving each application permission to capture and time/date stamp your actions and activities and capture your lists of Facebook friends

3. Seducing us all into revealing more about ourselves in the form of trackable activities and dated events (this is VERY hard to resist, even if you’re a shy or private person!)

4. Creating new actions and trackable events throughout everyone’s lives

This is a marketers’ Mecca! No wonder Google is ticked off. Google has to infer what we want from tracking our online behavior. The Facebook network knows explicitly what we do all day long, and we’re opting in to these seemingly innocuous requests, one at a time, in exchange for some frivolity and some appealing eye candy. (Who doesn’t want a picture of a sleek jogger or a scrumptious chocolate confection, or a rocking musician gracing their profile page?)

If you want to understand more about Facebook’s seductive forced march, read my article, “Facebook’s Timeline: Seductive and Dangerous?“.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patricia Seybold
With 30 years of experience consulting to customer-centric executives in technology-aggressive businesses across many industries, Patricia Seybold is a visionary thought leader with the unique ability to spot the impact that technology enablement and customer behavior will have on business trends very early. Seybold provides customer-centric executives within Fortune 1 companies with strategic insights, technology guidance, and best practices.

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