Is Facebook’s Timeline Erasing Your History?

Posted by on March 28, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Now that everyone has Facebook’s latest Timeline layout, an expansive format that allows you to dip back all the way to your birthday, it’s easier to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. I had some complaints about it when it originally launched for developers back in September and while few have been addressed and many others can be looked over, there’s one critical flaw to Facebook’s Timeline that I honestly didn’t realize until now: Facebook is more than happy to leave out a lot of your special moments to condense the look.

Now one of the key facets of Timeline is that Facebook intelligently condenses your content down to months and years. Previously, if you wanted to access your old stuff, you had keep clicking the ‘Load More’ tab at the bottom of each load and as you travel further and further back in time, recollecting every last tweet, picture, and moment, you’d pray that your browser didn’t crash under the sheer amount of data. Timeline addresses this by allowing you to go back in time easily. If you want to access content from 2008, you’d need to load back all of the content from now all the way back, again praying you didn’t have enough content between now and then to destroy your browser. A cool part to this is that Timeline can summarize many recurring aspects, like friends added, likes liked, and so forth all in a single block. The problem is that Timeline condenses the content too much.

Timeline doesn’t grant you the same granular view of every last moment you had in the same way that the pre-Timeline view did. You simply can’t access it. Facebook has it somewhere, but you can’t view it. This means that unless Facebook determined, by whatever algorithms they have running behind the scenes, that your even wasn’t significant enough to include at a glance, it doesn’t include it at all. Scrolling back in time, even epic 40-reply comments that I had are gone. They’re simply inaccessible unless I happened to save them before. Facebook, in effect, is curating your history to a fault and it’s a very big fault.

It’d be nice if Facebook could grant you a raw view of your content, but there doesn’t appear to be any change in sight, which is disappointing for those really missing some very important moments.

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