Facebook wants your memories


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.

[Image Source]

Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...


  1. Yorinda Wanner Reply

    You are providing great information to help understand the new timeline as well as for contemplating it’s implications.
    For me it is a personal choice, what I share on Facebook.
    In regards to the tagging we can set that so we can approve the ones we like in the privacy settings.
    Great article.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kerry1 Reply

    Big brother is watching you.  Yes he is.  He has been for some time now. Not just facebook, but Google too, and others.  With change comes skepticism and suspicion.  The choice of how much personal information you share on fb is YOUR decision.  

    I personally LIKE the timeline function, I think it helps aggregate all the information that is already on fb.  I am day 2 into my trial and I LOVE the new look.  I think it will be a great way to remember people when they’ve passed away.  No longer will you look through scrapbooks and photo albums, when a loved one passes away.  There will be Timeline.  My timeline will show my loved ones who I was as a person, my thoughts and opinions, my experiences, and the things that mattered to me.  Am I concerned that facebook owns this information?  No, not really.  I think the benefits outweigh any suspected privacy issues.    

    1. Sherman Lau Reply

      I agree with you very much!!! How much personal information we share on social media is our own decision. It is people’s responsibility to take care of our memory–keep it safe and secure, and share it with our beloved. However, I do believe that people have to be empowered to make our own choices. For example, some teenagers are not aware of what is happening to their digital memories and are completely unaware of the consequences. AWARENESS will make a change.

    2. Michael Moore-Jones Reply

      But you need to think about what type of communication will be showing up on Facebook. If someone dies, only their public posts will be visible (as when they’re alive). And will that information really give you an insight into that person, and what their life was like? I would argue that it doesn’t. I think the most valuable communication is private communication, because that’s where people really share the details of their lives that are valuable after they die. So it depends what communication you really think is valuable as to whether the benefits outweigh the negatives.

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