Facebook’s Timeline is a cool idea, but as a representation of my life, it doesn’t have much to say about my experiences before 2004. Now, in its own small way, viral content site BuzzFeed is trying to change that.
Specifically, it’s adding buttons in a few posts to take advantage of the Timeline’s ability to backdate content. The first post with this feature asks, “What Was Your First Computer?” For example, you could say that your first computer was an Apple II, and that you got it in 1978, and that would be added to the relevant section of your Timeline. Another post asks, “What Toys Did You Play With As A Kid?“
“Facebook didn’t exist in the 1980s and 90s so we never had the chance to post about our love of Pepsi Blue, the Tandy 1000, and Boyz II Men,” BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti tells me via email. “We wanted to help BuzzFeed readers complete their Timelines with all the meaningful experiences from their formative years.”
Of course, this also allows BuzzFeed to publish nostalgia-baiting posts that drive traffic through social sharing — after all, that kind of socially-driven traffic is both BuzzFeed’s bread and butter, as well as one of the main reasons for any startups to build Timeline apps.
I think there could be some fun ways for other sites to use the backdating feature, but I haven’t seen any yet. Peretti says his team had to work closely with Facebook to make this happen, and that BuzzfFeed might eventually extend this feature beyond its main site.