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Facebook’s latest changes receive varied reception on campus

Kristen Durbin | Wednesday, February 8, 2012




Notre Dame students can agree that change is a good thing when it comes to the first signs of spring, but they aren’t so sure about Facebook’s recently introduced timeline. 

Freshman Sami Zuba said the frequent and sometimes dramatic changes to Facebook can be difficult to adjust to.

“I really don’t care too much about Facebook’s layout, but I get annoyed when they keep changing it,” Zuba said. “It was months before I figured out I could tag people in statuses, and I’m pretty sure I figured that out on accident. They have a good product, and innovation is good, but too much is too much.”

Junior Katie Fuentes said she enjoys the new layout. 

“It allows you to easily access your past events without having to go through the hassle of clicking constantly until you get to past records,” she said. “I have found it especially useful when I want to share my abroad photos with friends and family.”

The global social networking company, which estimated its monthly usership at 845 million active users worldwide at the end of December, released its latest and arguably most dramatic change to the site’s layout to those users in the same month.

The new profile format, dubbed the Timeline, creates a visual scrapbook of a user’s lifetime Facebook activity by displaying wall posts, photos, videos, life events and recent activity as points on a chronological timeline. The feature will be distributed to all Facebook users over the next few weeks, according to the official Facebook blog.

While recently posted content remains most visible at the top of a user’s profile, the Timeline feature essentially transforms the profile into a detailed visual archive incorporating content dating back to when the user first joined Facebook. For many users, this means years of content are available at the click of a mouse.

Junior Marissa Gaskill, a Timeline holdout, said the new profile format and availability of vast amounts of content make it too easy to access other users’ personal information and photos. 

“I think [Timeline] is creepy because it facilitates looking further back at someone’s profile than you generally need to go,” she said. “I haven’t changed to it yet because I’m generally pretty resistant to change, and I don’t really want to learn more about Timeline. I just want to use Facebook to talk to my friends.”

While Fuentes said she thinks Timeline simplifies and enhances the Facebook experience, freshman John Olson said the new layout complicates his regular activity on the site.

“I just got Timeline this week, and quite frankly, I don’t like it,” he said. “It bothers me that it’s harder to look at and find people’s pictures and info. It’s just too extreme of a change and has made life on Facebook a lot more difficult.”

Although junior Meredith Angell has not made the switch to Timeline, she said she had mixed feelings about the new format and features, especially the placement of photos on a user’s profile.

“I really like the cover photo and the smaller profile picture, but it was really hard to find people’s photos until I eventually found the small boxes under the cover photo for friends, photos and likes,” Angell said. “I think the big boxes that showcase statuses and posts are too big, and it makes no sense that way.”

Like many students, junior Colleen Bailey said Facebook often becomes a time-consuming distraction, and she thinks switching to Timeline would only perpetuate that issue. 

“It’s cool to look at other people’s timelines, but I haven’t done it for myself yet because I know I would spend too much time setting it up and looking through it,” she said.