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Your Facebook Profile Page is Changing: What You Should Know

by on January 27, 2012
in Blog, News, Computers and Software, Internet & Networking, Facebook, Social Networking :: 12 comments

Your Facebook profile—and the amount of information available to others about you—is about to change considerably. Last year, Facebook introduced Timeline, a new kind of profile page that visually aggregates everything you’ve ever shared, liked or done on the social network and sites linked to it. Until now, using Timeline was optional. But, within the next few weeks, Facebook is making everyone switch over.

Once you are switched on, you have seven days to make changes to your Timeline before others can see it, giving you some time to hide posts from long ago that you may have forgotten about.

While Facebook users never like change, Timeline is arguably much more visually interesting than the old profile. That said, the new feature also raises some serious privacy concerns which I address in a bit.

How it works

First, you pick a photo in one of your albums (or upload a new one) to use as your “cover.” Appearing like a big banner above your profile picture, it’s the first thing people see when they visit your timeline. From there, you’ll notice everything is now in one place: the information you’ve included on your profile, your photos, everything you’ve ever “liked,” any Facebook apps you’re using, a map showing where you’ve been, as well as a timeline of everything you’ve ever posted.

You can add events to the timeline, as well. If you want, you can note everything that has ever happened to you from birth and add photos to create an online scrapbook to chronicle your entire life. To do that in Timeline, click on the “life event” option included in your status bar.

Timeline also posts activity from other Web sites and services that you use. So when you’re doing things like saving an image to your Pinterest account, or reading an article using the Washington Post Social Reader, the activity from each app gets grouped into its own box on your Timeline.

However, not all apps automatically post to Timeline. For some, you can turn on the "post to Timeline" feature right from the app install page. Others require you to do it from within your Facebook Account Settings, which you can get to by clicking on the small arrow on the very top right corner of your Facebook page. From there you can set the privacy of each app you’re using.

Facebook is currently promoting 80 apps that post to Timeline, including popular ones such as LivingSocial, RunKeeper, Spotify, TripAdvisor and Yahoo News.

Important Privacy Concerns

From now on, any events you add to your timeline default as public, meaning anyone on the Internet can see them. Public event posting created a huge problem for a 16-year old girl in Germany. So whenever you post something, make sure to specify who can see it, whether it’s all your friends or only certain people.

You’ll also want to check the visibility of past posts. Within your timeline you can go through each post that you'd rather not have visible and change the privacy setting, or change the privacy of all your past posts at once by going to Privacy Settings (which you can get to by clicking on the small arrow on the very top right corner of your Facebook page) where you can “Limit the Audience for Past Posts.”

And for both new and past posts, you can select the “Only Me” sharing option if it’s something you want to keep but don’t want others to see.

Location is another issue. While including geo-tagged photos and posts might not have seemed like a big deal when you shared them in your old linear stream, it’s a little different to have them all bunched together on a map, which is what Timeline now does. If you’d rather not have people seeing on a map the places you spend the most time, go back to each geo-tagged post and either change the location or hide it from your timeline.

Another worry is that hackers are going to try to lure disgruntled Facebook users to sites claiming to be able to switch their profiles back to the old look. Do not fall for this scam. If you do, criminals could get a hold of your personal information, hack your account and do all sorts of harmful things.

And many people are also concerned about the vast amount of data Facebook will be able to glean from its users. For example, the new feature that lets people add life events that weren’t posted on Facebook before actually is a guise to get more data out of you so advertisers can better target their ads.

It’s a pretty effective trick because if you’re not sure what kinds of events to add, Facebook will give you lots of suggestions. Here’s what I mean—when adding a life event you have to categorize it under various headings, such as work, family or home, and each one comes with several suggestions such as: new hobby, tattoo or piercing, new vehicle, broken bone and many others. It’s a pretty good lure to get you to engage with your timeline while Facebook gets a treasure trove of new data about you.

The issue is a hot one considering that Google is doing a similar thing. It recently said it is going to start combining the information it has on its users, under a new privacy policy that will become effective March 1. While Google already targets ads in Gmail based on what users write, it looks like the company will be using data it has about people in new ways. Not only does more data mean more targeted ads, The Wall Street Journal wonders, for example, if Google could notify you that you are late for a meeting because it can get your location from your Android phone and can see an appointment scheduled on your Google calendar.

If you’re bothered by such privacy concerns, check out our story on the many ways what you do online is tracked by big business.



Discussion loading

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How to get the old facebook layout?

From Rania on January 27, 2012 :: 9:53 am

You can’t. I have mixed emotions about timeline but either way, we’ll all be stuck with it soon enough. Here are seven resources to help you embrace Facebook Timeline: http://www.bit.ly/AmTpCn

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Too much information

From Anne Maxfield on January 27, 2012 :: 11:30 am

Today, someone I follow on FB updated to the timeline and there were a dozen postings on my wall, none of which were of any interest. Is there a way besides deleting individually, to prevent having to see what she ate in 1997?

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Absolutely

From Rania on January 27, 2012 :: 12:08 pm

You can absolutely hide them all at once; just go to any one of the posts and hover over the right hand side. You’ll see a drop down arrow that will let you choose to unsubscribe completely or subscribe to only important updates. If you choose to unsubscribe completely all of the updates you’re seeing will disappear.

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Does this mean, any of

From Lisa Hawthorne on January 27, 2012 :: 4:20 pm

Does this mean, any of your old photo’s and new one’s will be able to be viewed by anyone?? And you won’t be able to change them to private??

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Thanks for the timely (pun

From Sarah L on January 29, 2012 :: 4:49 am

Thanks for the timely (pun intended) information. Very useful.

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I got to this page

From David on February 06, 2012 :: 1:07 pm

I got to this page from a link that was supposed to talk about the Google changes.  Guess we’ll see how well the search function works at Techlicious.

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Look correct on our site

From Josh Kirschner on February 06, 2012 :: 1:53 pm

Where did you see that link? I can’t find a misdirect on our site, but if there is one, we want to correct it.

Here is the link for the Google article: http://www.techlicious.com/blog/google-privacy-policy-changing-better-and-worse/

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On the page (via my

From David on February 06, 2012 :: 3:25 pm

On the page (via my RSS feed)

http://techtalk.pcpitstop.com/2012/02/01/techlicious-your-facebook-google-privacy-is-changing/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+PcPitstop+(PC+Pitstop+Tech+Talk)


both links with the text “Article Continued Here” point to the article about Facebook.  The link to the Google info was the top hit from a search of your site.

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Thanks, David. But links on

From Josh Kirschner on February 18, 2012 :: 2:55 am

Thanks, David. But links on external sites are outside our control.

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Thanks, but no thanks Facebook

From DavidW on February 16, 2012 :: 8:47 pm

(That link still hasn’t been fixed: http://techtalk.pcpitstop.com/2012/02/01/techlicious-your-facebook-google-privacy-is-changing/? )

On topic:
Watching my kids change to the new interface, I’m not impressed. I only use FB to connect to family, and have been vigilant about making sure my settings are set to private. However I have no control over the settings that others use, so don’t post on their walls.
My silly question is: What about Facebook’s chat? Is that private or being stored on some archive?

I’m feeling like our privacy has gone back to the days of the FBI with J. Edgar Hoover. Not only is big brother not protecting our privacy, he’s in on getting as much of it as possible.

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I wish I knew how to code websites.....

From Ruk9p on February 17, 2012 :: 8:39 pm

If I knew how to code websites I would simply make a clone of FB and call it “Private Facebook”. Imagine a facebook where one is not being constantly and purposefully confused about privacy settings, and one’s data (all of it) is shared by written contract with the federal government defeating the Constitution in the process. Imagin a facebook without data mining, irrational demands for irrelevant data .Why my location to use an app like Photopassion? There is no justifiable reason for it beyond seeking free data that they can then share (or sell) with whomever you they wish without regard to your privacy.

Facebook needs to be cloned for privacy, or hacked and destroyed. Facebook is the mechanism through which Mark Zuckerberg enticed millions of people to sigh up for Big Brother. Shame on you Mark Zuckerberg!!!

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Timeline

From maurie on February 19, 2012 :: 1:56 pm

It is awful, period.  I can’t find anything on the sites of people who already use it.  I will be OFF FB as many of my friends if this is forced on us!

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