Beware Facebook Timeline: There's no going back

Facebook's Timeline feature went live worldwide earlier this week, in both your regular browser and in the Android and mobile web versions, but beware, once you activate the stream of memories, there's no going back. The new version turns your Facebook profile into a history lesson spanning all the years you've been active on the site, and while the social network has been at pains to point out the range of privacy settings, one big option is conspicuously absent: the ability to turn it all off.

Developers and early adopters who have tried Timeline using the pre-launch test workaround were able to deactivate the page and return to the regular profile layout, but that option has disappeared since the official launch. Those turning on Timeline now have seven days to preview and tweak what details, photos, likes, interests and videos are included on the page, before it automatically goes live.

As for Facebook's help pages, there's no reference given to turning off Timeline. In fact, the only conversion reference is if you accidentally switch your Timeline to a business page, something which requires contacting Facebook support to rectify. As the social network points out, only individuals are currently allowed to run Timelines, not brands.

What's still unclear is whether eventually all Facebook accounts will be forced to change to a Timeline profile, or if hold-outs will be allowed to keep their existing pages. We've got a request in with Facebook for clarification and will update when we know more. Meanwhile, Facebook's announcement post is filling up with comments from people who tried Timeline, weren't impressed and now want to shut it off.

The new system has already come under fire from EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center), which has blasted Facebook for introducing Timeline just weeks after settling a privacy lawsuit which accused it of "unfair and deceptive" business practices.

Update: Facebook has confirmed to us that there is no way to return to the old-style profile once you have switched to Timeline. Those who choose not to opt-in to Timeline will be automatically updated.

"Facebook's opt-in period will be available for a few weeks" a Facebook spokesperson told SlashGear. "After that, we will begin moving the people who have not yet opted in over to the new profile."