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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.

Check Your Visibility

So you've chosen a cover photo that you don't mind the whole world seeing. Now it's time to see what Timeline is already showing you and then perhaps fill out some events from your past, right? Well, not so fast. Before you get ahead of yourself, it's best to check your new profile's public visibility to see what shared links, photos, comments, and other things might come back from the past to haunt you.

To do this, click on the cog just below the right side of your cover photo and select "View As..." A box will appear at the top of your profile; click on the blue "public" link in the first sentence. Now you're viewing your profile as a random stranger. Any information on your profile that you don't want to share--and is not exclusively public--can be removed by clicking on the "x" in the top right corner of the story box. In my tests, the remove button did not work, but remember: I'm working from a developer preview, so bugs are to be expected.

Edit Your Timeline

As you scroll down the page, you will be greeted with Facebook activity from your past, as well as historical dates that predate Facebook, such as your birth. Facebook throws a ton of information into your Timeline and it's impressive how well organized your historical information is with the new functionality.

But as you go through it, there may be some stuff you find that you don't want your friends to see such as a bad photo, stupid status updates, and so on. To get rid of anything you don't want people to see, hover over the right corner of the story box and click on the pencil icon, then select "Hide from Timeline."

Choose Timeline Features

As you're wandering through your Facebook past, you may also find some memories you want to emphasize, such as a photo from a great vacation, a video, or an article link. If you want to highlight a photo, for example, hover again over the top right of the story box.

This time, select the star icon and click it. Your content will now take up the full width of the Timeline content area. If you want to put the photo back to a normal story size, just click on the star icon again.

There are certain things that Facebook automatically highlights. These usually are life events such as graduations, marriage, new jobs, and so on. There is no option to make these event boxes smaller.

Add Your Photos

As you go through your Timeline, you'll come across these important life events. Timeline lets you add a photo to these events if you choose, as well as (in some cases) a short text explanation of your memory. In my tests, Facebook didn't allow you to delete life events from within your Timeline. It's not clear if that's a bug or not, so it's best to withhold judgment, for now.


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