It’s rolling-out, ready or not: Facebook Timeline. The social networking giant’s latest format change is slowly but surely becoming the new face of Facebook. Announced in late September 2011 at Facebook’s f8 conference, Facebook Timeline is the new profile page design for Facebook users. Facebook Timeline transforms the profile page into a digital scrapbook where users can give a summary of their life, theoretically, since the day they were born. This massive overhaul is to help you show off who you are instead of merely what you are doing.
Although the announcement came in September, Facebook Timeline was only available to a very small beta testing group. Due to extensive development, a lawsuit over trademark infringement with Timeline.com, and carefully preparing the media, Facebook had to push back Timeline’s release date several months in a row until finally releasing in New Zealand on December 6, 2011. On the morning of December 15, Facebook Timeline was released to the general public. While it is available for Android users, the iPad format has yet to be released. As of now, users still have to opt in to try out the new format, but in the near future, all Facebook profiles will be switched to Timeline.
Facebook Timeline is exactly as it sounds. Instead of a page cluttered with news feeds, status updates, and all sorts of other activity, Facebook uses a vertical line marked with events and posts chronologically. Potentially, you can publicize content all the way back to the day you were born, even using pictures, videos, and commentary marking the events.
Facebook developers have implemented an algorithm to help evaluate and publish the most important moments of your life. As the user, you still have the last say about privacy controls, allowing only what you want to be published. Timeline equips you with an Activity Log which allows you to publish, hide, or delete any activity on your account. There is also a seven day grace period before your profile goes public where you can review the data that could be published and edit what you want viewable or not.
A striking feature of Facebook Timeline is the gigantic cover photo at the top of the profile. While the profile picture itself has become smaller, a large banner spreads the top of the page displaying a photo which you can customize. Another interesting feature is maps. Facebook Timeline takes the location of where photos were taken and marks them on an interactive map. You can also pin where around the world you have visited or lived.
This transformation is the largest of Facebook’s yet. Throughout the years, Facebook has changed its image repeatedly, but kept its basic format. However, Facebook Timeline constitutes an entire reformation, changing what Facebook actually is. The reformation shows how innovative and creative this social networking mammoth can be. It also demonstrates Facebook’s increasing capabilities, which is important to build up its credentials before releasing its projected US $100 Billion IPO sometime in 2012. Facebook is also demonstrating that it has taken over the “what you’re doing now” domain and is now moving on to the “who are you” domain.
Although Facebook Timeline has impressed many users, it hasn’t been entirely welcomed with open arms. Many users complain about the frequent reminders to “complete” their timeline or to enter more, in depth, information than they had to on the older Facebook. Some worry that the extensive amount of information available on their profiles will attract even more unwanted advertisements or make them more susceptible to identity theft.
Timeline is also making future job seekers even more nervous about what prospective employers may see. With your life’s worth of information on one website, Timeline is, as Mashable.com’s Gerrit Hall calls it, “a resume for your life.” This allows employers to look beyond your submitted resume or LinkedIn account and get into the “nitty-gritty” of your life. This means that we will have to start doing maintenance on our profiles before we apply for jobs.
Mashable.com gives a few tips on how to better polish our profiles:
- Since Facebook Timeline only publishes material you allow it to, it’s a good idea to constantly monitor and refine the viewable material on your profile. That also means becoming better acquainted with the privacy controls of Facebook.
- Instead of allowing everyone to get the whole view of your profile, customize it so that only certain groups of people will see the information they should see.
- Be careful what display pictures you use. Use pictures for your profile picture and that enormous cover photo that will appeal to a general audience.
- For the timeline itself, quality versus quantity. Facebook does an okay job by posting the most important things on the timeline but be sure that you’ve got the last say, publish what is important and not too much.
Facebook Timeline is an entirely new and—depending on whom you talk to—improved Facebook. It will take some time before we get used to Facebook’s new face, but Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is optimistic. In the f8 introduction, Zuckerberg stated, “Timeline is the story of your life. [It’s a] new way to express who you are.” Just be careful what you’re expressing before you go into that job interview.