Home Facebook Timeline: What You Need To Know

Facebook Timeline: What You Need To Know

Facebook’s new Timeline is rolling out to the public, offering users the chance to upgrade to “a new kind of profile.” The new profile was revealed at Facebook’s f8 developer conference on September 22. The rollout began in New Zealand on December 6, and it’s now spreading worldwide.

Timeline turns the profile into an illustrated, browsable history of a user’s entire life, with major milestones and little moments smartly chosen by Facebook’s algorithm. The recent history is specific and full of activity, but Facebook automatically focuses older stories on life’s big moments.

The Long Wait Is Over

Facebook’s initial documentation was not specific about the timeframe of the rollout, saying only that it would appear “in coming weeks.” We learned at f8 that the plan was to roll it out after only one week, but that came and went with no change, partly due to a legal challenge from Timelines.com. Anyone signed up as a Facebook app developer (no app required) could turn it on right away, though.

According to Timeline product manager Sam Lessin’s testimony in the Timelines.com hearings, 1.1 million people were already using Timeline as of Friday, September 30. On November 10, a Facebook spokesperson told us that “over 1.5 million people” had turned on Timeline, but they had “nothing further to announce” at the time.

Weeks passed with no word about the launch. Was it technical hiccups, legal trouble, or negative feedback that caused the delay? Who knows. Facebook’s messaging has been carefully controlled, but this December, Timeline started heating up again. First, Facebook acquired Gowalla, bringing on a talented design team experienced with location-based storytelling. On December 6, Facebook began the launch of Timeline in New Zealand. It’s becoming available to everyone now, and it’s a completely different Facebook from the one you logged into yesterday.

The Digital Equivalent of You

We previewed Timeline in detail the day it was announced, and it impressed us. It’s a major change, and it’s sure to upset longtime Facebook users as major updates always do. But it’s easy to customize and control what shows up on the Timeline, and nothing about users’ privacy settings has changed. It’s the same information displayed differently.

The changes do create new opportunities for over-sharing, though. If you connect to apps using the new capabilities of Facebook’s Open Graph, you could be sharing more information than you’re used to. The new model has pros and cons, and there are privacy issues to think about.

Don’t worry. You get a chance to edit the stories that show up on your Timeline before you publish it to everyone. It won’t be visible to others for seven days.

This new appearance is a distinguishing feature for Facebook in the social networking space. It’s the digital equivalent of you. It brings the once-nerdy notion of lifestreaming to the mainstream. Whether or not one likes this new reality is a matter of taste, but surely, for Facebook, there’s no turning back.

Learn More About Timeline

We’ve covered everything you need to know about Timeline and the new Facebook. Here are some resources:

To activate Timeline now, go to facebook.com/about/timeline.

What do you think of Timeline? Let us know in the comments.

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