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Facebook's big face-lift: What you need to know

Timeline is ready for you to try out. But how much do you want to reveal about yourself? You need to think about this.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 16, 2011 6:04PM

This post comes from Seth Fiegerman at partner site MainStreet.

 

MainStreet on MSN MoneyYour Facebook page is about to get a complete face-lift.

 

Facebook revealed Thursday that its long-awaited profile redesign known as Timeline is now available for all users to try out. Anyone with an account has the option to sign up for the new profiles now by going to Facebook.com/timeline and clicking the "Get Timeline" button at the bottom of the page.

 

Otherwise, they can wait for a notification to pop up at the top of their profile in the coming days alerting them to the change.


Post continues below.

Facebook first teased the redesign at a developers conference in September, saying that Timeline would be available within "a few weeks." The company started rolling out the service earlier this month to only a tiny portion of its users in New Zealand.

 

Once you sign up for Timeline, you'll have seven days to test it and format it to your liking before the changes automatically become visible to your friends. If seven days sounds like more than enough time, keep in mind that Timeline isn't just a visual redesign, it also completely overhauls the information that is visible to your contacts on the social network. That means it's time to rethink your profile.

 

Timeline effectively transforms the traditional Facebook profile from a simple page on a website to an all-encompassing scrapbook of a person's life. At the top of the page, users now have space to place a large landscape picture in addition to their profile photo.

 

Beneath that, there are thumbnails highlighting your friends, photos, a map of where you've visited or checked in, and the posts you've liked on Facebook, as well as additional thumbnails you can add to this row like subscriptions and subscribers, all of which could be seen on the old profile but are now more prominent.

 

In terms of privacy, the most significant change is the timeline that appears to the right of this top section, which is the namesake of the new redesign. With the pre-Timeline design, the most recent posts are the most visible on the page so that any photos or updates added more than a few weeks or months back tend to get buried from view. As soon as you get Timeline, though, anyone who can see your profile will have the option to click on a particular month and year and see all the posts from that time period.

 

It's this section that users will need to spend the most time curating before it officially publishes within seven days. Facebook's goal here is to get its members to tell their life's story on the site -- in fact, you can add details and photos of important "life events" to this timeline even from before you joined Facebook. But as has always been the case, you need to be mindful of any embarrassing or incriminating details you add to the site that could come back to haunt you.

 

If there is a photo album of you drinking in college that was posted several years ago, which you assumed no one would find, now is the time to go back and un-tag yourself. If you posted status updates ranting about a bad boss or said something controversial about a political issue, go back and delete it or else select the option to remove it from Timeline. It's easier now than ever before to unearth these details.

 

Aside from the Timeline feature, you should also take a minute to review the applications you have set up on the site to make sure you're comfortable with the information being public. With Timeline, the majority of the page -- commonly referred to as the wall -- highlights your most recent activity on apps like Spotify and Netflix alongside the status updates and pages you've liked. This may not be a privacy breach, but it does mean more people may notice if you watch a particularly bad film.

 

The goal of Timeline is to get you to curate your life, and as any good curator knows, sometimes less is more.

 

More on MainStreet and MSN Money:

13Comments
Dec 19, 2011 11:00AM
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I am to the point of deleting my account from facebook, when I started using FB it was all fun. Now it is a pain in my a** to use it. Now with more changes...FB will be deleted.
Dec 16, 2011 10:34PM
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Yeah...even though this is oddly placed on the money section of MSN...
I'm finding Facebook to be getting creepier by the minute. Stalk much?

Dec 19, 2011 8:31AM
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New  is  not  allways  better .  Can  you  opt  out  of  new  lat  out ?  Sure  hope  so .
Dec 16, 2011 9:19PM
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Why is this in the Money section???
Dec 19, 2011 10:44AM
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Having a facebook page doesn't have to be scary or a privacy invasion. If people would just use common sense, there wouldn't be a problem. I'd like to switch to the timeline because I've seen snapshots of it and I love the layout. It reminds me of Myspace (which I STILL miss by the way). I think thoroughly before I post anything on mine. I think "Hmmm......do I want potentially the whole world to know about this). If the answer is no, I don't post it. It's really that simple. I can't believe how many crazy people on my friends list have their phone numbers on their page. Or pics of them drinking and partying (or worse). Or posting updates about how stupid their spouse (or worse, their boss) is. I don't get it. Common sense just isn't common anymore I guess.
Dec 19, 2011 3:07PM
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Timeline is more work than I want to do. This was supposed to be fun.
Dec 19, 2011 2:37PM
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I've seen some of the new profiles with Timeline, and it looks like everything was just thrown all over the place randomly.  When I click on someone, I'm not looking for some new-age indie art mosaic, I just what to know who the **** they are. 
Dec 16, 2011 11:21PM
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...A newer, better bell and whistle...I suppose I gotta' line up like the conditioned consumer and get one too. I do enjoy adding comments to yahoo & MSN news stories, but I do notice that some story posts `require' a Facebook ID to leave a comment. I won't do it....And as to why this story is on MSN/finacial...it is to remind all those well monied partying social groups to review their `past' before the new `timeline' catches up with their  coroporate review. If Facebook existed in the 70's, there would have been lots and lots of people pictured with bongs, refeers and hash pipes.
Dec 19, 2011 9:49PM
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I am not sure this timeline won't be more work ....I just wanted to talk to my family and some friends......
Dec 16, 2011 9:26PM
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If there is a photo album of you drinking in college that was posted several years ago, which you assumed no one would find, now is the time to go back and un-tag yourself. 
I hope you realize how ridiculous this statement is, let alone the entire article. Unlike a random status update from January 5, 2007 at 9:53pm, you can bring up photo albums with just a few clicks. So 'assuming no one would find it' is just plain stupid. If you didn't care then why would you care now?

And don't waste time going through all your status updates one by one. Maybe you should think of it this way: if one of your 'friends' has the time and determination to go through your entire facebook history to find something that they possibly wouldn't agree with, then maybe you have bad friends.

Read my username, that's all you need to know.
Dec 19, 2011 3:26PM
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Oh boy, here we go.  Let the whining commence...
Dec 19, 2011 7:45PM
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Don't post or show anything that make make you look or seem different from anybody else or it will come back to haunt you.  You better not be seen with a drink in your hand or having a spirited conversation with someone of differing ideology.  Is this the future?  Are we all just going to be clones of each other by showing no personality or real interest outside the "norm"?   Seems to me that is where most articles involving FB go. 

Dec 19, 2011 8:35AM
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they are expanding into the great unknown and now include aliens -Spacebook- what morans would use Facebook- who cares what you look like now or ever- get a life-
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