If you use Facebook you’ve probably heard of Timeline, a “new” feature that replaces the “traditional” profile page. However, you may be confused by Timeline–I know I am–and confusion could make you the target of a growing number of Timeline-related scams. As of January 3rd, the watchful folks at Inside Facebook were reporting 16 Timeline-related scam pages which had “collectively gained more than 71,000 likes…These pages are among the top search results when searching Facebook for “timeline.”
Why am I confused by Timeline? Well, I keep hearing that all Facebook users are going to have to use Timeline, but I’m not using it yet. That’s why I called it a “new” feature. Some people have been using it for a while but it is currently optional for most people and some of them–like me–have opted not to use it yet. When you do opt to use it, there is no going back to the previous profile arrangement. At least, that is my current impression based on what I have read so far.
As I understand it, the day is coming when every Facebook user will have to use Timeline. I’m thinking that day is when the confusion will really snowball because a lot of people will decide they don’t like Timeline and wonder to themselves: Can I remove Timeline? And the scam artists and click-jackers are getting ready for that day, offering bogus links on Facebook that promise Timeline removal.
For example, here you can see one such bogus Facebook page that wants you to click Like before continuing. In fact, the page is all about “liking” and one of the steps it requires in the 100% bogus process of Timeline removal is a grid of 45 Like buttons you must click.
After several other steps, including inviting all your friends to like the page, you get this message: “Wait For Few Days Your Request Will be forwarded To The Timeline Office” (original wording and capitalization).
Hopefully nobody out there believes there is a Timeline Office…
So far, Facebook has not been able to keep up with the policing of these scams. As I write this I see no warnings on the Facebook Security page about claims to deactivate Timeline, and nothing I’ve read on facebook.com makes it clear that the feature cannot be removed. Unless Facebook changes its mind and makes Timeline optional, the bottom line is that you will have to live with it and avoid the temptation to click on links promising to help you deactivate, remove, or disable Timeline; they are just not worth the risk.
Note: There are some legitimate web pages out there that describe a method of Timeline removal that worked when Timeline was in beta and linked to an app, but that method no longer applies. Also, you can trick Facebook into not showing you the Timeline by using an older web browser, or by telling your current brower to emulate an older browser, for example with the Firefox User Agent Switcher. However, this does not disable Timeline or remove it, and it does not prevent other Facebook users from seeing the Timeline view of you.
Author Stephen Cobb, ESET