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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.

At the top of Timeline sits a large photo--Facebook calls the cover photo--along with an inset of your profile photo. You get to select the cover photo. Below the right side of the cover photo, you will see three menu items: Update Info, View Activity, and a settings cog.

"Update Info" takes you to a new page where you can edit your basic profile information. including employment and education history, contact information, favorite quotes, places you've lived, and a list of your family members and relationships. The data you see populated on this page will depend on how much information you've included on your Facebook profile.

"View Activity" shows you a list view of all your Facebook activity that is organized by year since the date you joined Facebook. It includes such information as things you've written on friends' walls, photos and links you've shared, and photos you've been tagged in.

The settings cog includes a privacy setting that shows you what your Timeline will look like to specific Facebook friends or people on Facebook who are not your friends. The settings feature also allows you to add a Facebook badge to your own website. It's not clear today if the settings cog will change once Timeline goes public.

A little further down from your cover photo, you'll see your basic information listed, which includes where you live, where you studied, where you work, or other information that you may have included in your profile. You will also see a photo montage representing your Friends list, another photo showing the number of photos you've been tagged in, a map showing where you've lived, and a list of all the Facebook pages you've Liked.

There is also a down arrow that, when you click on it, will show you any new Open Graph Facebook apps you've added to your Timeline, such as the new The Wall Street Journal app. Here's an example:

New Status Box Adds Life Events

Below Timeline's top section, you will see a new status box, where you can share photos, updates, and links just as you do on your current Facebook page. There are also five new icons that let you add specific life events to your profile. The icons represent: Work and education; family and relationships; living (buying a home, vehicle, etc); health and wellness; and milestones and experiences (awards, driver's licenses, etc).

The list of things you can add to your profile is pretty exhaustive: It includes jobs, schooling, engagement and marriages, new children and pets, deaths of loved ones, buying a new house or car, getting a new roommate, breaking a bone, undergoing surgery, overcoming illness, learning a language, getting your driver's license, receiving an award, or traveling to a new destination. We'll leave it for another post to discuss the privacy implications of adding all this data.


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