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BLOG: Facebook's new timeline layout: A getting-started guide

Ian Paul | Sept. 25, 2011
Facebook's new profile layout, Timeline, promises to turn your Facebook account into an online scrapbook.

Privacy Bugs?

One thing to keep in mind is that as you add content to your profile using the new status box, be sure you always check the privacy settings for everything you share. In my tests, when I shared something from the Timeline update box, it was automatically marked as public, despite the fact that my default privacy settings used to be to share with specific friends only.

That may be a bug, however, as my privacy settings returned later on, although I did have to reenter them. It's not clear what happened. I have contacted the company to find out what's going on.

Below the new status box, you will see your Facebook activity separated into boxes allowing you to scroll down the page and see all your Facebook activity. To the right of the main column, you will see a condensed timeline showing specific years or decades.

When Timeline was first activated for my profile, it took a few minutes before Facebook's servers finished processing all my information. When I started, Timeline only listed the present, the past few months, 2010, and the rest of the "2000s" as one gigantic blob and then my birth. But eventually, it added the 90s, 1987, and 1975 based on information shared by me and my friends. Clicking on a year or decade in the navigation column will take you to that point in your Timeline.

As you scroll down your Timeline, a virtual toolbar will remain static at the top of your screen.

This is the status update box and it is where you can share new photos, links, updates, and so on. The right-hand column also is static, and will stay with you as you scroll down the main content column.

Now that you know how to get around Timeline, here's how to get started.

Choose Your Cover

The most impressive part of Facebook's new Timeline is the cover photo that most people will see when they land on your profile. At first, the canvas will be blank. You can change this by hovering over the cover photo area. You will then be prompted to either upload a photo from your computer or choose one of your Facebook photos.

Keep in mind as you're choosing an image that cover photos are never private, just as your profile picture is not. That's unfortunate since I wanted to include a photo of me, my wife, and our newborn baby, since I feel that represents my life right now. The problem is my job makes me a semi-public person, and I don't want the whole world seeing photos of my family if they happen to stumble across my Facebook profile. So I decided to use a photo of my dog instead. He's already a legend anyway, just ask the joggers who frequent Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Actually, on second thought, don't. Moving on...


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