Being as huge as they are, Facebook is in a sticky spot with regards to changes. If they push out even a minor change too abruptly, the uproar is deafening; a thousand (mostly futile) “One Million Strong Against Facebook’s New Rounded Corners In the Linked Accounts Settings Screen!” groups spring up over night to collectively shout at a wall. Roll it out slowly and to a limited set of users, however, and an ample army of people will go way out of their way to sneak in.
Such is the case with Timeline. I broke the details on how to nab a Timeline invite almost immediately after Timeline was announced (you’re welcome, every-other-site-on-the-Internet) back in September. How many people do you think stepped through the process? 20 thousand? 500 thousand? Because it was more like millions.
Facebook casually mentioned the spike in a blog post update:
“We announced Timeline in September and made it available to developers building apps on our platform. Since then, over a million people have signed up for the developer beta to access Timeline.”
“Over a million” here actually seems to mean “Well over a million”. I first heard that the developer program had spiked by 1m users as a result of Timeline just a week or two after it went live; since then, I’ve been told the number is likely somewhere closer to 2 million.
Facebook, of course, loves it. While a few commenters were quick to theorize that bringing in a bunch of randoms may somehow harm the developer program, it’s essentially been a massive stress/Beta test with millions of Facebook’s more technically savvy users as the sample group… for free. And given how well that post performed (read: stupidly well), we can’t complain either. Feel free to kinda-sorta hide ways to unlock Beta features more often, Facebook — it’s win-win.