Facebook's latest design update is one of the social network's biggest, but compared to past changes, it's somewhat painless. Rather than an extreme surprise at your morning log on, you have the option of activating Facebook Timeline yourself, thus easing into the transition.
Introduced at Facebook's F8 developers conference in September, Timeline creates a more elegant view of your interests, personal info and activities — and includes the option of adding info on your personal history that occurred long before Facebook even existed. You can either wait for the Facebook Timeline announcement to appear at the top of your Facebook profile, or you can roll out your own timeline now by visiting this page and clicking "Get It Now."
Here's Facebook's video introducing Timeline:
Sharing a more detailed biography with our Facebook friends is certainly appealing to the social narcissist in all of us, as well as those in the ad-targeting community (all the better to sell you stuff, my dear), and let's not forget stalkers and identify thieves. Not to worry, however. Once you start working with on your timeline, you have seven days to review the content before your new profile goes live for everyone to see. According to the Facebook blog:
When you upgrade to timeline, you'll have seven days to review everything that appears on your timeline before anyone else can see it. You can also choose to publish your timeline at any time during the review period. If you decide to wait, your timeline will go live automatically after seven days. Your new timeline will replace your profile, but all your stories and photos will still be there.
When filling out your timeline, you have the option of featuring or hiding stories via a dropdown menu similar to that currently available on Facebook, which allows you to choose whether a post is viewable to everyone, or "Public," to "Friends," "Only Me," or a customized list.
The Timeline Activity Log, which is only accessible to you, allows you to adjust the privacy of individual posts, and denote whether a post on your regular Facebook profile appears in your timeline. You can also use the "View As" option in the gear icon menu to see how your timeline appears to others.
"What may disturb some people is that the timeline is going to make it easier to trawl back through a fellow Facebook user's history, and learn information from their past, rummage through old photographs and the like," Graham Cluley of the security firm Sophos pointed out in September after Facebook announced Timeline. "Of course, this is all information that has been uploaded to Facebook in the first place, but it will now be more accessible than ever before."
People are already grumbling about the rollout, as Cluley predicted in September. "In my experience many people, although disgruntled with Facebook for a number of reasons, don't leave the site because of the investment they have already made in it."
More on the annoying way we live now:
- FTC settlement aside, Facebook still owns your privacy
- Facebook Timeline tells 'story of your life'
- Facebook aims to help prevent suicide
Helen A.S. Popkin goes blah blah blah about the Internet — at least until the Stop Online Piracy Act becomes a law, making snark a libelous felony. Tell her to get a real job on Twitter and/or Facebook. Also, Google+.