Facebook poised to dredge up your embarrassing past

Get ready for some headaches and possibly a lot of legwork adjusting to the shiny and ambitious new Facebook Timeline feature and other sharing options being rolled out this week.

Users probably are just getting used to the last round of changes to privacy and user settings made by the giant social network several weeks ago. But the new Timeline is the latest and greatest—and probably one of the most anxiety-producing -- changes to date because it will make past content posted on Facebook pages much more readily accessible.

With Timeline, users will have more options for displaying their photographs and content. At the same time, the Timeline applications allows for much greater accessibility to previously-posted content.

Yes, that means that embarrassing photo of a year ago thought to have been forgotten, or those late-night after-party comments from two years ago, will be in full view again for Facebook friends in the Timeline feature. For federal employees, that means comments you made years ago -- perhaps before you were hired or got your current security clearance -- might come back to haunt you. For agency managers concerned about official agency pages, it means at a minimum a new layer of security concerns and management tools to learn.

“Until now, profile visitors could only go back in time to a minor degree to see what was posted,” commented blogger Kirby Plessas in an entry on Oct. 13. “People change their minds and opinions, (and what) they may have had two years ago may no longer be valid, or what seemed funny back then might not seem funny now.”

There also are modifications in how Facebook application information will be shared on the site, among other revisions in Facebook settings expected to be rolled out on Oct. 19 or thereabouts.

Fortunately, there is guidance available on how to navigate the new Timeline and how to disable the new Timeline if necessary.

Another option is to do the legwork and make the privacy changes to the Timeline that protect your information. Blogger Angela Alcorn offers some tips on how to do this in a recent blog entry. The Mashable website also offers tips and tricks for how to best use the new feature in a recent article. Computer-savvy users may wish to set up a developer account before the official launch to get a handle on some of the features. Here are some blogger tips on how to do that.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.


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