Thursday, September 22, 2011

Your Life, For Sale on Facebook

If 2011 was the year of the Like button for Facebook, 2012 could be called the return of the app. Today at their annual Developer Conference (D8) in San Francisco, Facebook unveiled new capabilities that increasingly are focused on allowing Facebook to monetize the nearly 800 million users that visit their site each month.

Facebook unveiled a new profile feature called Timeline that allows the history of your posts and activities to be displayed in chronological order (by year). More importantly, they added verbs (watch, read, listen, hike) to actions so that users can be listening to music, and that action (and the song you are listening to) is automatically shared with others via the music application (e.g. Spotify).

While digital natives will clearly enjoy this new way to show off their lives via Timeline, it also, at the same time, offers up a level of privacy infiltration that some may find undesirable. Friends and future employers can now get to know you in ways that they didn't before. Of course, users now have control over what they allow to be seen on their timeline, but over time, we expect that users, especially younger ones, will become less sensitive to what is there.

On the applications (apps) that so badly want to access your Timeline (and sell something), once an app has access to your profile, it doesn't have to ask permission ever again. It is clear that what is at work by Facebook is the continued expansion of its ability to grow revenues, which are estimated to be around $4.2 Billion for this year.

A friend that I worked with at Saba once said to me that her goal was to have zero information about her available on the internet. She is not a Facebook user. For those that are, with the coming launch of  Facebook Timeline, your life, at least what is visible, is basically for sale.

Author's Note: We'll be covering Facebook (and the implications for Enterprises) in more detail in our premium research that is at

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