5 Reasons Facebook Timeline’s time is limited

By now, most Facebook users have made the transition to the new Timeline profile page, and it’s only inevitable that the resistant few will be forced to follow, as Facebook make the changes permanent in the next week or so. The change has been advertised as a way in which to “rediscover the things you shared”, but more importantly, as a way to map personal milestones that occurred in the days pre-social media. As with all Facebook updates, user response has been mixed, with many complaining that the new features are cumbersome to use; and to be fair, they’re not wrong. Unless Facebook make some serious alterations, Timeline will just be another blip on the timeline of social media failures.

1. Cover images are usually ignored
Facebook claim that covers can be used as a way to show everyone what you’re all about in one definitive image, but to be honest, this seems somewhat redundant. Profile pictures are still used as the primary avatar when interacting with other users, so why would you need another image to personalise your profile page? Ultimately, covers just lend themselves to a more visually cluttered screen, and ironically, it’s been found that most users ignore the image anyway. This is not really surprising. Facebook is about interacting with people you already know, so it seems somewhat superfluous to include a feature which aims to introduce you to an individual’s personality. Either, the cover needs to replace the profile picture, or it has to have some sort of interactive capability so that other users don’t intentionally ignore it.

2. There’s a reason history is old
The whole point of Timeline is, or so Facebook says, to allow you the opportunity to see how your relationships have developed over time. Unfortunately, you’ll probably grow old as you wait for history to unfold. Timeline takes an age to load as you navigate through the years; and the longer the gap between entries, the more often you’ll have to wait. The idea is great, and for the sentimental among us, having the ability to look back on our Facebook conversations can be fun. But unless Facebook does something to speed up the process, or develops a better way in which to access archived information, very few users will take the time to reminisce.

3. Taking up space is not a highlight
Yes, you can highlight posts on Timeline, unfortunately, it doesn’t really work. When you choose to highlight an event or post for all to see, Timeline merely expands the entry to take up more space. There is no other differentiation between a highlighted post and a regular post, and it’s unlikely that other users will notice the difference when scrolling through. Perhaps Facebook could take a leaf out of Twitter’s book and promote highlighted stories to the top of the Timeline (it already does this with its News Feed to a certain degree), or at least highlight the post in another colour to make it more noticeable.

4. Timeline takes time
The fact that you are given seven days to edit, alter and design your new-look profile highlights the intense dedication needed to perfect the new layout. Overall, the concept of Timeline is good, and can give users a more rounded interactive experience as they bring older elements of their lives into the online social environment; however, Facebook also needs to consider that not all users use social media in the same way. Some users may not be willing to spend that much time editing, while others may not want to create such an in-depth profile. Either way, Facebook has to find a way to make the Timeline process less time-consuming, otherwise users aren’t going to utilise it the way it was intended.

5. Not everyone is tech-savvy
While some users aren’t willing to dedicate the time needed to set up their Timeline properly, other users don’t know how to use the new settings at all. Facebook seems to have forgotten that it is not aiming to reach the student demographic anymore, and that more and more of its users are from older generations. It seems to take for granted that these users are as technologically savvy as its original primary users, but as Marc Prensky explains, older users are more like digital immigrants than digital natives, and that like immigrants, they often have to learn and adapt to the new rules of social interaction provided by social media. Subsequently, Timeline’s settings need to be simplified to ensure that all users are able to interact equally otherwise, Facebook could see a mass exodus of users to the more simple surroundings of Google+.



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