Facebook Timeline

As everyone is probably aware by now, Facebook has rolled out its Timeline feature.

There has been a lot said across the internet about the subject, some of it good but a lot of it bad. From a quick peruse I think it’s fair to say that most comments on the bad side come from people who don’t like the upheaval. Unfortunately, though, they seem to have a strong voice and there have been a high number of people leaving Facebook as a result of this feature.

That seems to me to a little harsh. One has to wonder if they actually took the time to check it out properly first. I’ll admit that I was slightly unnerved by some of the rumours about it but I did the decent thing and checked it out for myself.

Sure, it takes a little while to set your timeline up properly. I set aside the weekend to sort mine out and now it all looks lovely.

I particularly like the fact that you can add posts to past dates, a premise that I find quite interesting and I’m working on some updates on various things from my history that will read as though they were posted on the day!

The only thing that I still have concerns about is exactly how the data will be exploited by advertisers. I’m already fed up with the ads on the News Feed page so I may still leave Facebook for Google+ if it turns into half a page of ads! I’m currently running a G+ profile in tandem with FB … just in case.

Of course, there will be those who are sufficiently wary of FB, particularly after their track record when it comes to security. This can only have one result: a split between those who refuse to share anything and those who are happy to share stuff. A small minority may come somewhere in between.

In future, some commentators say, potential employers could check out your FB page as background information – just to check out if your timeline tallies with what you’ve put on your CV. It has even been suggested that the Work information could be used by employers to match people with specific jobs. This could be interesting but in order for this to happen everyone would have to have that information public, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

As always with FB a new update comes with its own privacy concerns.

While past status updates have always accessible if you had the time and the inclination to find them, Timeline makes it a lot easier and now those same updates can be found in just a few clicks. Anyone activating their Timeline is given 7 days in which to modify past events before they’re available to view. It is possible to make your entire Timeline available to “friends only”, hiding any older updates that might otherwise be available to the world.

The problem for FB is those people who really will not like the new Timeline feature and are prepared to leave altogether, rather than use it.

FB don’t really help themselves when they don’t give people all the pertinent information concerning updates. This has been shown up on a massive scale with certain unsavoury elements offering to give away the secrets to reverting back to the old-style profile. There have been numerous pages, videos and files made available for download all claiming to be able to do this, but the truth is they can’t. Timeline is here to stay, like it or not.

Users of IE7 (are there still any out there?) will find problems with the new Timeline. In fact, it seems that some users of IE7 even have issues with the current profile page. I’m not a programmer, but from reading up on the subject, it would appear that the browser may have issues with the style-sheet language (whatever that may be!).

The best bits about Timeline

There’s a new place to put a banner image that stretches across the top of your profile. You can be creative in what you use here – it doesn’t have to be a picture of you. You could use a photo of your cat or dog, or something a bit more artistic.

Instead of the old wall you now have a nice, vertical, timeline with branches coming off either side that can be any number of things: a photo gallery, a post from a friend, a note about what you’ve recently liked, or a small widget showing what friends you added in the most recent month.

Navigating through time couldn’t be simpler with the time-bar on the right. You simply click the month (if you’re looking for something in the last year) or the year to go further back in time.

Probably my favourite thing about the new timeline is that you can make those more mundane things a little more interesting. For instance, I’ve added a photo of each office building to each of the “Started new job” elements. Any status that you want to stand out, or “feature” you can click on the star in the top right corner to extend it across the whole page. Likewise, if you don’t want something featured, click the star to reduce it in size. I also like the neat way that it lays out pictures from photo albums, giving one large picture on top and 4 smaller ones below it.

I’ve mentioned the privacy concerns but, truthfully, the new timeline doesn’t make any more of your content available, it just makes it easier to find. To help with this, FB have brought back a feature that had been buried in previous versions: the ability to view your timeline as another user.

Click on the “settings” cog (see pic), and select “View As…” you can then select enter a friend’s name, or click the ‘public’ link in the blurb.

This can be useful when checking that you have set everything to the privacy level you want. Combining lists with this feature, it is now a doddle to ensure that people who are mere acquaintances do not get all of the updates that close friends do.

To get started with Timeline click this link: Introducing Timeline  You should be taken to an intro screen explaining all the new bits and bobs. At the bottom you should see a green “Get Timeline” button – click it.

Further reading: