By Mark W. Smith, Detroit Free Press
Facebook’s long-delayed massive overhaul to user profiles, dubbed Timeline, is finally available for all of the social networks more than 800 million users worldwide.
Timeline, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg first showed off in September, is a complete rethinking off a user’s profile page. It attempts to use the data already inside Facebook as a sort of digital scrapbook.
Facebook users can now easily scroll back to previous years and see what they were saying and what they were doing.
For some, this will be a nostalgic trip through a social network that has captured much of who we are. For others, it will be a bit terrifying to see posts from the early days of Facebook, when it was limited to college students who often shared way too much.
Here’s a look at nine things to know about the new Facebook.
There’s a seven-day review period. Once upgraded, Facebook users will be able to work through their Timeline and get things ready before it goes public. During the seven-day review period, the Facebook user will be able to publish it at any time. If he or she chooses to wait, it will automatically go live after the week is up.
Your cover photo is your chance to make a splash. The most striking feature at the top of the new Facebook profile is the cover photo, which stretches across the page’s width. The Facebook user’s profile photo, which is seen across the site, is now just a small square. Most are using this opportunity to make the profile photo a simple face shot and have used the cover photo to show something more personal, like a pet or favorite vacation spot.
No new information is being shared. Yes, Timeline is bringing back a bunch of old posts. But these posts have long been viewable on Facebook. Before, a friend would have had to go to a profile and click again and again for more posts, but would eventually travel back in time.
Your privacy settings on old posts will remain. A post shared four years ago that was set to be viewable to just friends will continue to be viewable to just friends. The only concern here lies in how a user’s definition of friend has changed. A photo or status update that in college that was OK for friends might not be OK for friends now, which might include coworkers.
Posts can be expanded. Timeline already tries to guess which of your posts will be the most interesting and it makes those viewable. It can try and guess here by how many likes or comments a post has received. If there is a post that should be expanded and is not — like a new job or college graduation — you can expand it.
The Activity Log is the best place to edit a Timeline. Facebook has built a very helpful new page called the Activity Log, which can be accessed from a profile page, that shows every single piece of content Facebook has from a user. Each item can be deleted or tweaked from this page.
For your eyes only. If there is a post in your Timeline that you don’t want to zap completely from Facebook, but don’t want anyone to see, you can change the post’s visibility to “Only Me.”
Users can add other life events. Facebook is hoping that users flesh out their Timeline with information from B.F. (Before Facebook), too. Anything added to the Timeline can now be given a date. So, if a user uploads an old photo from summer camp, he or she can set the date to June 1995 so that it appears chronologically in the Timeline.
There’s no sense in holding out. Facebook Timeline will eventually go live for everyone on Facebook, whether or not the user has taken the time to prune and optimize the Timeline view. It’s best to be proactive and make sure what people will see is what should be seen.