The uproar over Facebook’s introduction of the timeline feature has been amazing. The issues associated with the feature – ranging from usability to security and privacy – are enormous. There are thousands of posts on the web debating the pros and cons of all of this. This blog post isn’t one of them. The fact that Facebook Timeline is a blatant monetization scheme in which the company is attempting to co-opt its users into voluntarily assisting the company in selling that data to companies is pretty clear.
What I find the most interesting is how quickly the commoditization of cloud storage is occurring and the issues associated with data protection of what is in essence infinite cloud storage. Of course, backup is one component of that – as is the so far more prevalent concern of security, privacy, and data spills.
One thing that seems to me to be fundamentally broken in Timeline are fully featured provisions for users to control their data. I think it’s difficult to be concerned about people who voluntarily make personal information available. However, what concerns me is creating techniques that allow those users to gain control of their data – both past data and current data. Of course, what also concerns me is giving users the ability to protect that data.
I’m thankful for Google+, and I’m hoping that people using Facebook will “vote with their feet” if Facebook doesn’t heed the data protection issues that have been raised by many of its users. How about you?