Scared of Facebook Timeline? This App Might Help.

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Facebook is being nearly as secretive about the release date of its Timeline format as it is about its IPO. But in preparation for the day when it flips the switch and turns Timeline on for all users, not just the early adopters who've opted in, it's commissioned an app that creates a customized movie for every Facebook user in an effort to warm them up to Timeline.

An attempt by Facebook to make Timeline into a less fearsome prospect for users who have yet to opt into it.
An attempt by Facebook to make Timeline into a less fearsome prospect for users who have yet to opt into it.
Developed by Definition 6 in collaboration with Facebook, Timeline Movie Maker requires users to opt in to share personal data including their photos and videos. The app then generates a movie based on a user's greatest hits, attempting to capture the highlights of a user's Facebook experience through the years by surfacing pieces of content with high levels of engagement.

It's similar in format to the video Facebook made to introduce Timeline at the F8 conference in September featuring Andy Sparks. It's also similar in conception, if not in tone, to the viral smash Take This Lollipop, which uses Facebook user data to generate a horror-movie scenario by depicting an unhinged man scrolling through a user's Facebook history, pulling up Google Maps to look up their address, and then taking off in his car.

The movie maker looks like an earnest attempt by Facebook to make Timeline into a less fearsome, or even an enticing, prospect for users who have been hesitant to opt into it. And while every product update Facebook rolls out seems to result in some backlash, the company has a lot riding on this one, with its IPO and potential $100 billion valuation hanging in the balance.

In addition to reimagining the user experience by positioning Facebook as a utility that's meant to be a catalogue of someone's entire life, Timeline is also a play to entice marketers to expand their footprint on the social network. For one thing, new apps released earlier this month are built to work with Timeline and document actions other than "likes" that users have taken on Facebook -- having "pinned" for Pinterest, or "bought" on Fab.com, for example. The broadening of Facebook's vocabulary through Timeline could potentially make "sponsored stories" ad units, which are served to friends of users who engage with a brand, more appealing to marketers.

Timeline Movie Maker will be initially available in four languages including English, French, Spanish and German and will allow for five different music soundtracks from which people can choose to create their mini movie. People can also customize their music selection, images, videos or check-ins at the end of the first automated video view.

"Timeline is about sharing the key moments of your life with your friends and family," said Paul Hernacki, chief technology officer at Definition 6. "Timeline Movie Maker is evaluating highly engaged content in a chronological fashion, choreographing a user's personal journey on Facebook, with content that has the most engagement and uses comment analysis to identify key life moments and where the user is tagged."