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How Facebook Timeline Works

The Bottom Line

It's easy to get upset about changes to Facebook, since most of us spend so much time browsing and using it. We get attached to the familiarity of it. So, whether you're a fan of changes Facebook rolls out or not, it might give you some peace of mind to think about the motivations behind those changes.

Some critics say that the pattern of Facebook offering "optional" services that eventually become mandatory makes it seem like the company is hapless, or cruel, as if a bait-and-switch of any kind were a rational way to treat your users. But if you consider the "optional" period as a beta test, you can see the wisdom in making changes like this in waves: If nobody had signed up for Timeline, or the reviews were uniformly terrible, we probably wouldn't be talking about Timeline now.

In the end, it may be best to consider all Facebook information public. With anyone else's profile, it's the natural assumption, but when it's our personal stuff that can sometimes get a little fuzzy. When posting words or pictures online, think about it in terms of your reputation -- the best representation of yourself. You're the only one in control of that.

Part of living in the Digital Age means coming to terms with the fact that nothing ever goes away: Nothing is ever lost. Nobody's forcing you to use Facebook, and if you don't want something posted, simply don't post it. Or, as grandmother used to say, "Never write down what you can say aloud, and never say out loud what you can say with a look." Why should the Web be any different?