Why Facebook changes matter more than we think. Part II

Annette Markham

Sep 24, 2011


To continue the point I was making in my last post, I see this Facebook Timeline video (and the rest of the recent FB changes) as a wake up call of sorts.

With the Timeline feature, Facebook is promoting itself not just as a contemporary tool we choose for this moment in time, but one we will naturally rely on throughout our lives to trace, document, edit, filter, and pass along our personal histories. What a clever rhetorical frame.

It’s not just a clever frame, but a slightly frightening one, if we don’t pay attention to the ways this company could weave a dense web of control over its 750 million users. If Timeline was simply streamlining the practice of dragging out family photo albums for sharing, that would be one thing. But it’s far more interwoven into everyday practice. Potentially, Facebook has the power to not just facilitate what we do, but define what should be the way we document the narratives and critical moments of our lives.

I can’t help but begin to consider how much my next 20 years (or more) of social activity and memory-making could be shaped by this interface, which is owned and controlled externally and connected to sophisticated target marketing. I’m beginning to think about the concept of “Corporate Colonization” much more concretely.

I’m wondering when they’ll start charging money. After we get totally dependent, I’m sure.