The new Facebook: more openness = more accountability
With over half a billion people logging into Facebook.com in one day, it’s no wonder that responses to the new Facebook features overwhelmed the web once they were announced at last week’s F8 Conference. Here are my thoughts on all the hoopla, concluding with a visual breakdown of the new Timeline.
Facebook and online privacy
It was reported by Mashable, that 72.2% of users were unhappy with the new Facebook changes.
Let’s be honest, Facebook doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to privacy anyway. So there are some legitimate causes for concern.
The new ticker feature publishes information in real time, so now users have to be much more cognizant of the information they post on the site.
With the new social graph system, Facebook is now able to publish more of our online activity. According to Famous Blogger, it may even be able to do so when we are not logged in.
Facebook’s new Open Graph apps will enable what Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg refers to as “frictionless sharing.
Now, instead of having to manually “like something,” Facebook’s open graph system will be monitoring my online activity and send automatic updates to my Timeline.
The new apps will be based on verbs like:
- Listened to
The new Social Reader, for example, will send automatic alerts to my profile when I spend longer than 30 seconds reading an article.
These are all big moves toward diminishing online privacy, but it’s certainly not the end of the world.
Given Zuckerberg’s views on online privacy, these changes should not have been met with such consternation. To me, he clearly has disdain for the very concept of privacy.
In 2010, he expressed his views on Facebook and online privacy during a live interview, saying that he believed the line between public and private life is becoming more and more blurred due to evolving trends in social media and online communication.
Whether one agrees with this statement or not, after listening to the interview, one can clearly see that Zuckerberg holds a strong point of view on how information should be shared online, and in my opinion, has been transparent about it.
Rather than debating about whether we like the new Facebook changes, (which are here to stay), I think it would be a much more productive use of our time to talk about what this means for the future of social media and the way that we communicate.
Brian Solis wrote what I consider to be the most thought-provoking response to the new changes, in which he concluded that the new Facebook changes call for a higher degree of personal accountability:
Here, it’s looking forward that counts and a new mindset is absolutely necessary as we begin to navigate the new Facebook EGOsystem. Without a thoughtful approach, it’s now easier than ever before to share actions or content without intending to do so. Think about it for a moment, your actions will speak as loud or louder than your words as each contribute to a semblance of who you are.
Indeed, privacy as we knew it is dead. It is now something that we have to learn and teach. Your privacy settings in Facebook are yours to manage. But, to do so takes initiative and an understanding that like your credit score, what you share online requires definition and reinforcement. Remember, what works against us also works for us. We’re essentially adding a layer of thoughtfulness in our social networking to better tell our story and also enjoy the stories of others.
After reading Solis’ response and spending time with the new changes, I don’t think this is a bad move for Facebook. Sure, people are peeved, but eventually they will get over it and adapt.
My advice to people would be to stop complaining and to make an effort to understand the new features and how to make them work for you.
I started a conversation on Google+ last night to get other impressions on the changes, and I think Carrie Brown and Gayla Schaefer both offered valid arguments for why we should give the new Facebook a chance.
“I think it’s brilliant. I’m admittedly a privacy outlier, but I think that at the very least, we should focus on the benefits of openness and sharing and not just the risks. Okay, maybe for some people it’s “eerie” but isn’t it also freakin awesome, fun, and useful,” wrote Brown.
Shaefer made an argument for why the breakdown in privacy expectations could have a positive impact on government transparency.
“As far as the breakdown in privacy expectations among the younger generations – I think (for my area of study) it has fascinating implications for the spread of democracy. The paradigm shift that could or is a result leads to things like more expectations of transparent govt, wikileaks, and less opportunity for leaders to present one face to constituents and another privately (i.e. Anthony Wiener but more importantly donor interactions). A developing generation that expects one face instead of accepting two – will demand better government. At least that is my current hypothesis,” she wrote.
So, while I can certainly understand people’s concerns, there are some causes for excitement with the new Facebook changes so long as people are aware that there is a higher degree of responsibility for every individual who chooses to log on.
My new profile: Spending time with the Timeline
Now that I’ve given you my overall impressions of the more open Facebook system. I want to provide you with a view of what your profile will look like once you activate the new timeline, and also explain the new features you’ll find on your profile.
All in all, the new Facebook Timeline still has the basic functionality of the old Facebook.
Granted the appearance of our profiles will change drastically, as will the amount of our information that is shared. Some of the content will become much more prominent, while other content will seem to diminish in prominence.
The new profile is all about YOU.
So, your friends will seem to be diminished, but the truth is the prominence of your friends list doesn’t really change all that much. They were given a link in the left sidebar before, and now they’re given a link in a box at the top of your profile.
It’s the cover being so large that makes the information beneath it seem so small. The new profile makes your face the “calling card” of your profile.
But that’s the point.
After all, this is FACEbook that we’re talking about.
For a visual breakdown of the old and new Facebook profile features you’ll find on the new Timeline, check out the images below.
This is my profile right after I switched to the new Timeline. As you will note, I don’t have my Spotify or Netflix activity included, but this will give you a basic overview of the new profiles.
(Click images to enlarge)
The first image shows what the top half of your profile will look like. This is what you will first see when viewing your profile.
If you want to opt-in early to the new Facebook profile, just follow the steps in the videos below.
First, get to the new Timeline following the steps in this video:
Then, set up your new profile following the steps in this video:
If you’re still on the fence about opting-in, I have to tell you, it was amazing to being able to go all the way back to 2005 when I first joined Facebook.
I saw posts from people who I haven’t talked to in years. I was also able to see my personal growth reflected in my posts. It was almost like going through a diary.
What are your thoughts on the new Facebook?
Tags: accountability online, anthony weiner, brian solis, carrie brown, conversation, f8, Facebook, facebook features, facebook timeline explained, famous blogger, frictionless sharing, gayla schaefer, Google, government transparency, mark zuckerberg, Mashable, new facebook features, new facebook reviews, online transparency, open graph, read write web, responses, social reader, survey, the end is near, timeline, wiki leaks