Timeline Launch Nears, But Few Users Like it, Survey Finds

Every Facebook change prompts a backlash, and this time it’s about the impending arrival of Timeline for all users of the social network. More than half of Facebook users say in a survey that they are worried about the change, while a minority said they like the Timeline feature, or are resigned with the fact that they’ll grow to like it.

The findings come from security research firm Sophos, which polled some 4100 Facebook users about Timeline. More than half say they are worried about the forced change, and more than 30 percent said they don’t know why they’re still on Facebook, the admittedly unscientific survey finds.

Almost 8 percent say they do like Timeline and just over eight percent said they guess they will get used to the new Facebook profile layout, which promises to turn your account into an online scrapbook where you can highlight important moments in your life. My PCWorld colleague Ian Paul has a great getting-started guide for Facebook Timeline.

Facebook announced Timeline in September, but the social network was slow to integrate it. At first, only a limited number of users could get the new profile setup, which later gave access to anyone who wanted it. Then, earlier this month, Facebook said all profiles will switch to Timeline over the next few weeks, whether they want it or not. Users have seven days to review everything that appears on your timeline before anyone else can see it.

It’s not the scrapbook element of Facebook Timeline that seems to tick people off, as much as new apps that automatically share your activity. Apps like Spotify, Washington Post, or Netflix post on your profile songs you listened to, stories you read, or movies you watched. Even all your check-ins are aggregated on a map, showing your recent travels to anyone with access to your profile, which is a concern for some.

Graham Cluley of Sophos explains: “I'm somebody who was never a rabid Facebook user, and have been well aware of the various risks that come along through sharing too much online, and yet the Facebook Timeline brought home to me just how much I had shared in the way of status updates, photographs, groups I had joined and ‘Like’s I had made.” Cluely says the poll results might be skewed because the kind of people who participate in Sophos’ polls are be more conscious of privacy and security-related issues.

If Facebook’s history of backlashes over changes is any indication, you should expect to see groups, campaigns, and the like to convince the social network not to force Timeline upon users. Facebook, however, has rarely nudged in front of user pressure, and given Timeline’s over-sharing concept is getting integrated deeper into the social network, chances are Timeline is something you will have to live with if you still wish to use Facebook.

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