The Timeline differs from the default profile pages we know and love in several ways. Now, rather than showcasing only your most recent posts, your personal front page can be scrolled back months or years at a time. Most importantly, this change can offer visitors a glimpse at your entire social networking past, all the way back to the day that you joined up. The revamp can be both a blessing and a curse for seasoned social networkers, as it can produce a bit of pleasant nostalgia, but also drag up some of your less proud public moments.
Left untouched, your Timeline may remind of you of breakups, job troubles, or even a few unfortunate party photos that you have long since buried. Depending on your settings, these black marks on your digital past could allow new followers — including friends or business associates — to see a side of you that was better kept tucked away.
Privacy is already a hot topic for Facebook users and the network's litany of sharing options can be difficult to navigate, even for the most experienced users. The company isn't oblivious to how the Timeline may drag up some unwanted past events, so a short buffer zone is in place to allow you to modify your online persona before making its new debut. You will have until Tuesday, January 31 to erase any past Facebook scars you'd prefer to hide.
The mandatory Timeline rollout will undoubtedly catch some by surprise, but you don't have to fall victim to the ghosts of past updates. Take some time to review your social networking history and don't hesitate to prune anything that you wouldn't want on the front page of a local newspaper. Because as of right now, the clock is ticking.
(Or, if you're really fed up, we can help you switch to Google+!)