Time To Clean Up As Facebook’s Timeline Exposes Your Past

Facebook Timeline

Facebook has promised its 845 million strong user base that Timeline will become a compulsory feature in the next few weeks, so now’s the time to adopt this latest development if you want to avoid being caught off-guard.

What is Timeline?

Timeline brings historical data that users have posted on Facebook closer to the surface, instead of seeing it buried further down the page in places that most people would ignore. As a result, a random selection of your comments, updates and tagged photos representing your yearly activity since you joined Facebook now have increased visibility, and whilst you’re bound to come across some pleasant memories, there may be some that you’d rather were forgotten.

Clean up

Users have been advised to make the most of the remaining opportunity to tidy up their profiles and act now. As usual, this change has had an impact on the privacy settings many users vigilantly maintain; any post you make defaults to Public unless a pre-determined audience is selected. As our online presence becomes integral not only to how we do business but how we live our lives, it’s vital that the information posted online does not put individuals at risk.

Phishing and malware attacks have the potential to become highly personalised if cybercriminals have access to historic conversations between Facebook users, meaning targets are likely to have more difficulty in differentiating between a genuine email and a scam. Not to mention the temptation to add Life events to your Timeline, which simply enlarges any particularly noteworthy information you wish to publish. Cybercriminals are likely to find detailed answers to the most common ‘secret questions’ that are supposed to provide an additional level of security for the rest of your personal accounts.

Double check

Regardless of how convinced you are that you’ve hidden all there is to hide, it’s worth checking how your profile appears to the public; it may come as a surprise that this is easy to do by clicking on the small gear below the right corner of your cover and selecting ‘View As…’.

There is huge potential for information to be misused when sharing is the norm in the online environment. A recent survey conducted by Sophos reveals that Facebook users are beginning to acknowledge the risks of divulging too much; 51% of 4000 polled said Timeline worries them and many were shocked at how much information about themselves they had posted online.

Useful tips for making the transition to Facebook Timeline have been published on the Get Safe Online blog and users are advised to visit the Facebook Help Centre where they can learn more about privacy and Timeline.

Getting to grips with change will always require some learning, no matter how much of a digital native you consider yourself to be; but when it comes to online security, being familiar with the risks and applying a few key rules is all you need to know.

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Hannah Tufts has been a Communications Assistant with The Security Company (TSC) for one year. She is responsible for internal communications within TSC in addition to managing client communications campaigns and providing marketing support. Hannah graduated in July 2011 from the University of Reading with a 2:1 in English and American Literature. Whilst studying Hannah was a regular contributor to the Travel, Comment and Debate sections of the university newspaper. Hannah has gained experience in the Communications field through her time spent with a variety of organisations including WEXAS Traveller Magazine, Penguin Group and CSC, where she developed her writing skills and in-depth understanding of different target-audiences.