It’s official: Facebook is now rolling out Timeline to all of its nearly one billion users, and will shortly make it the one and only option for profile designs. If you’ve already jumped the shark and tried creating a developer account to activate Timeline for your Facebook profile, or you activated Timeline early, you may already know what you’re in for. The new Timeline profile design streams your entire Facebook “wall” history on one page, dating all the way back to the very first day you joined Facebook.
For some Facebook users, like me, this can be quite an extensive history. I joined Facebook in 2004 and was somewhat shocked to find that conversations that occurred when I was only 19 were now available for the entire public to browse through. To prevent complete and total backlash as all users are forced to adopt this new profile design, Facebook has built in some privacy features and a grace period to allow users to adjust to this new profile design.
Unfortunately, Facebook has not offered the option to undo the conversion and allow users to use the “old” profile design. Since we all now have the new Timeline profile design (or will soon), how exactly do you use Timeline?
Using Timeline’s New Privacy Settings
When your profile first gets converted to Timeline, you’ll notice all of your previous Facebook content that used to disappear into an abyss after a few days or weeks is now displayed dating all the way back to when you first started using Facebook. Much of this content is set to appear to the public by default, so that anyone who searches for you on Facebook will see these posts. We suggest using a new privacy setting to automatically set all prior Facebook content visible to your friends only. This feature is under your Privacy Settings. Just click Manage Past Post Visibility next to Limit the Audience for Past Posts to limit all past posts to be visible only to your friends. Keep in mind that your friends will still see these posts. If you don’t want your friends to see your past Facebook history, you will need to devote a few hours to deleting these posts.
Using Timeline’s New Features
Once you have enabled Timeline’s most critical privacy settings, you may want to start using Timeline’s features, which are designed to help fill in the gaps that your Facebook posts don’t tell — or to highlight life events that you don’t mind the public seeing. These events can be anything from when you graduated college, got engaged, were married, bought a house, adopted a new pet, or any other milestone, and you can add pictures to go with these events. As you scroll down your Timeline, a floating menu bar will appear at the top of your screen, which you can use for adding events. You can also add events from the status bar on your profile page; just click on Life Events and choose the most appropriate option. These life events are, by default, public, which can be a great way for Facebook users who have the Subscriber option enabled to highlight travel and notable career events without sharing too much personal information.
Adding a Cover to Your Profile
You may have noticed that another big change about Timeline is the addition of a cover. This photo, which takes up a large chunk of real estate at the top of your Timeline, is designed to help you personalize your profile more than ever before. Many other blogs have lists of some incredibly creative Facebook cover photos, and we’ve also detailed how users can get creative with their cover images.
Using Apps on Your Timeline
If you’re a Pinterest addict or love listening to Spotify and bragging about your impeccable musical taste with the world, Facebook recently announced the integration of 60 new apps into Timeline, allowing users of popular third-party apps to share everything they’re doing, eating, listening to, and where they’re going with their friends and family on Facebook. The integration of these apps into Timeline makes sense, as Timeline is designed to share your story. As these apps are part of life as you experience it, automatically updating your Timeline with this information only seems fitting. If you’re using an app like Spotify, Pinterest, Words with Friends, or even LivingSocial, you can opt to publish your activity to Facebook, and then choose whether you want to have this app shown on Timeline, allowed on Timeline, or hidden From Timeline. Keep in mind that whatever is on your Timeline is publicly visible, so be sure not to allow data that you wouldn’t want strangers — such as a future employer or even your current boss — to see.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed with Timeline
Does Timeline sound overwhelming? Some users, like designer Dana Campbell, says “Most people tell me they don’t use Timeline [yet] because they won’t use the features or that it looks too complicated.” Dana notes that she has already been using Timeline and, while she thinks it is well designed, “[she doesn't] think [she'll] really look back and read [her] ‘story,’” which leaves me to wonder if others will care even more to really scroll back through years of Facebook history to read the stories of others as well. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information now visible on Facebook, consider whether this information (especially if limited to only your friends) could really be detrimental to your personal life or career. If so, consider activating the subscriber feature and cleaning up your friends list. (Yes, in that order. Any friend you delete will stay subscribed to your public updates in the future.) If you have too many years of Facebook history to clean up, we recommend limiting who can see that data rather than spending (and wasting) time deleting all of it. However, if your previous Facebook history is otherwise harmless, you likely have no privacy concerns — or anything else — to worry about with the new Timeline profile design.
What do you think of the new Facebook profile design? Are you now more concerned about your privacy? Share your thoughts in the comments.