Facebook rolls out new profile pages (again)

Social network upgrade pushes privacy boundaries

by Andrew Morales
Section Editor

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the f/8 conference in San Francisco, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011. (Paul Sakuma/AP Photo)

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This is the gripe that many Facebook users have with the new changes rolled out by the social media giant. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced them at the f8 Conference in San Francisco. New facets of the social network’s pages are bringing in a new wave of privacy concerns. Four of these five changes have already taken effect on Facebook.

The first change users will notice is the newly installed Ticker on the upper right hand corner of the facebook profile. The Ticker is basically a mini-sized “wall.” It can easily disappear along with the chat box. While some may say the Ticker is a neat little function, others say it is annoying. To minimize the notifications on Ticker, users must go to each of their friends’ profile pages and select the notifications they want to receive from them. Those are all under the “Subscribe” button on each user’s profile page. The more friends they have, the longer this will take.

The second change is the introduction of Real-Time Apps. Before the new changes, the apps could notify users before their information was used. Now, real-time apps only require user permission once to access their information. Sharing things on your Facebook will now be one click and done. These third-party apps will add everything users share to Facebook automatically to their profile page. Users now have to really think before they share things.

The third change is the Top Story feature on the wall. A Top Story prioritizes news that someone will likely find important. Facebook then says they will try to put more news just like that at the top of a profile page. Above the News Feed, there’s a new way to see New Posts. It is a drop down menu that resembles Twitter’s “New Tweets” bar.

The fourth change is the Like button. Under the new changes, the word “Like” is being replaced by whatever verb you can think of. By Using Facebook Gestures, people will be able to be “Reading” a textbook,”Procrastinating” at the mall or “Bumpin’ and grindin'” at the rave. This now pinpoints a user’s real thoughts. The downside to this is potentially leading to sharing more than a user wanted or intended to say. These changes were sudden for many. For others, they learned through their friend’s frustrated updates. “Please change Facebook back” pages sprung up by the hundreds. Other frustrated people just deactivated their accounts. The remaining users are now being forced to update.

The fifth change is the main one. Its called Timeline. It allows users to document their life since before they were on Facebook. This new change looks like Myspace (remember that?) in many respects. It’s basically a scrapbook of someone’s entire life, or as much as they wish to share. All the photos they’ve posted, all their status updates, the apps they’ve used, even the place they visited on a map, are all available for the world to see. Many users view this as the most controversial change. It is potentially a stalker’s buffet.

A few frustrated students spoke out about the changes. “I liked the old one better because you don’t have to struggle with it. Now, it does not make sense,” said College of the Desert student (COD) Karla Jaime. “You might as well just put your social security number on there,” said Yvonne Gonzalez.

Others have adapted and are ready for Timeline. “At first it was really different, but it’s okay now, said COD student Teddy Lamb. “You’re only going to put up what you want to see anyways,” COD student Julian Del Toro explained.

Users can put up whatever they want others to see. In reality, this was true with the old profile pages as well. With these new changes, the people who run in people’s social circles can now choose to see what music they listen to and what kind of videos they like, so nothing is really hidden anymore.

Personal privacy has always been in the hands of the user. Now more than ever, this statement needs to ring true to all who use Facebook.

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