Did You Review Your Whole Facebook Timeline Before Publishing It?

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Really? The whole thing? You probably didn’t, but you should because there are things you posted long ago that you might not want people to see. I sincerely worry that all over the world, this is happening right now: “Oh look, a new Facebook profile design. Grrr, I dislike change, but it looks cool. There’s a 7 day preview period? But all my friends are showing off their pretty covers. I’ll just publish my Timeline now, and go back and delete embarrassing posts later.” But they won’t. This is a big problem for individuals and Facebook.

For the majority of users, things will be fine, and they’ll love Timeline. Facebook did a great job designing it. Maybe too great, such that people publish it too fast. Over the last 6 years, the definition of a Facebook friend has expanded to include people outside one’s peers. Timeline doesn’t change your privacy settings, but it does make it easier for others to find things you posted before you ever friended them.

I’ve heard Facebook is planning more ways to educate users about the importance of curating your Timeline. There are already a few alerts in the tour, intro, and blog post, but they’re not very strongly worded. That needs to change, and Facebook may need to provide tools to make reviewing the masses of content easier.

Once users have already opted in to publishing their Timeline, it will be harder to get them to go back and review. And with today’s global rollout, the time bombs start ticking. Two weeks, a month, a year later, they get a call from their boss about a sexist or racist joke they posted in 2009. They get a call from their mom asking if they have a drinking problem. They get a call from their little brother about whether getting high is fun like they said in that post 3 years ago.

Some say you shouldn’t post anything to Facebook you wouldn’t want public. They’re right, but not everyone is so diligent. Beyond the examples above, everyone gets worked up sometimes and writes things that might not seem so appropriate once they’ve cooled down.

Facebook needs to get serious about pushing users to vist their Activity Log and review their Timelines. Raising awareness without scaring users will be tough, but Facebook must figure it out. Otherwise, horror stories of lost jobs and family drama are on the way. Burned users will blame Facebook, and the mainstream media will jump all over it.

Despite the image above, this isn’t fear mongering or snarky criticism, I’m really trying to help. Facebook, you’ve worked too hard on Timeline to let it become a talking point against you. Tell the users loud and clear how important Timeline review is. Users, tell your friends.

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]