Only one in twelve Facebook users is in favor of the company’s Timeline feature, shortly to become compulsory for all.
In a survey of 4,000 users carried out by security firm Sophos, fewer than eight percent said they liked it, with another 8.4 percent saying they thought they’d get used to it.
But more than half – 51.3 percent – said the prospect worried them, and 32.4 percent said they didn’t know why they were still using the service.
The Timeline format replaces the existing Profile and Wall. It makes visible every status update and photograph from the past, and is easily searchable – making it a nightmare for those that thought their old indiscretions were effectively invisible.
While it’s possible to go through the Timeline and laboriously remove the posts users would like to see lost to the world, there’s nothing you can do about friends’ old posts.
And, says Sophos’ Graham Cluley, there are worrying security implications.
“Facebook is encouraging users to enter even more personal details about themselves and their life experiences, and making it simpler for others to view the information,” he says.
“But might this not also make it even easier for identity thieves to put together a profile about an individual, discover the name of their first pet, and so forth? That’s all information which could be put to a nefarious use.”
The company concedes that its poll isn’t entirely representative – respondents are more likely than most to be concerned about privacy. But it does show that Timeline isn’t something that users are crying out for.
The Electronic Privacy Information center (EPIC) is calling on the Federal trade Commission to investigate Timeline, which it wants
changed to an opt-in feature.
In a letter to the FTC written late last year, it said: “with Timeline, Facebook has once again taken control over the user’s data from the user and has now made information that was essentially archived and inaccessible widely available without the consent of the user.”