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Facebook wants your memories

By September 26, 2011Opinion


I have been watching recent Facebook news with interest. There is one thing that I did find interesting, and it’s likely to affect all Facebook’s users. If we all start using this feature, we’re going to be using Facebook forever. Forever. We’ll be completely and utterly locked in and won’t be able to go anywhere else.

It’s an absolutely genius move on Facebook’s part, and it makes perfect sense.

What feature am I talking about?

Five little icons. Seriously, I believe that five little icons are the biggest change Facebook has made, and will be the reason we will continue to use Facebook for years into the future.


Those icons – the briefcase, the heart, the house, the apple, and the flag – encourage us to enter past information about ourselves. We are even encouraged to add information and photos about our birth.

When you click on the house icon, for example, you’re asked to enter information about a time you moved or bought a new house.

Clicking on the flag asks you to describe “millstones and achievements” you’ve had.

If you spent hours entering information about your life, what do you get? A literal timeline of your entire life.

On the top right-hand side of your profile page are icons that show dates, and you can browse back through your timeline by clicking on these dates.

Think about it. If you’re entering information about your life, and all your past experiences, the result is that you have a ready-made diary and timeline of your entire life, including photos, places, and links to your friends’ profiles.  And who’s your “diary” owned by? Facebook.

Facebook will own our memories.

This is both fantastic and scary. We will all never have to worry about forgetting past events in our lives, and our friends can even help us create our diaries by tagging us in entries that they make.

But that diary is owned by one company. A for-profit company, whose primary aim is to make as large a profit as possible. This is the fundamental problem with social networks, and us giving them a lot of information about ourselves. It’s the reason “privacy” issues are so talked about. Because there is just a giant conflict of interest between our data being safe, and Facebook wanting to profit off of it.

So if we give Facebook information about previous events in our lives, then if we want to be able to look back through that in future, we have to use Facebook. If we leave Facebook, we lose our memories.

This is the biggest change Facebook has made simply because it’s going to have consequences on our use of Facebook for years to come. In itself, it’s not a big change. But if you look at the big picture, these little icons are the most important icons Facebook will likely ever make. With them, Facebook makes the barriers for leaving it a hundred times harder.

I, for one, won’t be trusting Facebook with my memories. I’ll be trusting a service which gives me complete control over my information and data, including the ability to download it all to a hard-drive. But wait, there is an alternative out there and its called Duo.

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