Facebook Timeline and Advertising

Did you think Facebook’s latest move of unveiling Timeline was a way of improving user experience? Perhaps, but as this BetaBeat post posits, it’s also designed to woo advertisers:

In what seemed like an unrelated move, in September, Facebook announced a brand new type of profile called Timeline, where your whole personal history is laid out by month-by-month, all the way back to your birth. At the time, Facebook described it to consumers as a chance to: “Share and highlight your most memorable posts, photos and life events on your timeline. This is where you can tell your story from beginning, to middle, to now.” By the end of this year all 800 million plus Facebook profiles will have been converted to this new interface.

What most users don’t know is that the new features being introduced are all centered around increasing the value of Facebook to advertisers, to the point where Facebook representatives have been selling the idea that Timeline is actually about re-conceptualizing users around their consumer preferences, or as they put it, “brands are now an essential part of people’s identities.”

The name itself is cleverly designed to conceal the fact that your profile no longer arranges information chronologically. Yes, things are laid out by year and by month. But, when it comes to what’s displayed to your social circle at any given time, other metrics, including direct payments to Facebook itself, will now influence the ranking and placement of stories. This payola will be a crucial part of the graph rank, the new metric for placement that the social network uses to determine what appears on your profile.

If this seems a bit disheartening, remember that you aren’t a Facebook customer: its advertisers are.

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