Kathryn Rose is an award-winning author, speaker and social media strategist. She has written 6 books on social media marketing, including The Step by Step Guides to Facebook, Twitter, SEO/Video Marketing and LinkedIn for Business, as well as The Parent’s and Grandparent’s Guides to Facebook. Kathryn also serves on SocialShield’s Parent Advisory Council, and has contributed the below blog post to address the new Facebook Timeline.
This past December, Facebook began rolling out yet another site redesign. This one is called “Timeline.” In the updated versions of my books The Parent’s Guide to Facebook: Tips and Strategies to Protect Your Children on the World’s Largest Social Network, and Staying Safe on Facebook: A Guide for Teens, I address the Timeline feature and the privacy and interactions associated with this new design.
The Timeline essentially aims to turn your Facebook profile into an online scrapbook. Mark Zuckerberg describes the new features as “the story of your life…a new way to express who you are.” This will eventually be mandatory for all users and cannot be reversed so beware of any links claiming to revert your profile to the old version, as these are most likely viruses. Do not click on them!
Once you are notified that your Timeline is active, you will have 7 days to review your settings and information before everything gets published publicly.
There are also, as with all redesigns of the social network, some privacy challenges that users should be aware of. The first thing you will notice is that unlike in the past, if someone wanted to see your old posts from when you first joined Facebook, they would have to scroll to the bottom of your wall and click “See older posts” over and over again until they found what they were looking for. Now, old posts, photos and videos are more easily accessible by simply clicking a specific year on your Timeline. This could expose some older posts that you may have forgotten about or don’t want visible. Imagine you joined Facebook while you were in college and some of the older posts contain embarrasing or borderline inappropriate content – this can be of concern to many people.
I suggest that once you switch to the new design, you take some time to go through your old posts and either remove them completely or hide them from your Timeline if you don’t feel that they represent you in a good light.
If you have been on Facebook for many years like I have, this can be an arduous task to be sure. It takes some time to sort through each post and decide not only if you want certain content to be shown, but to whom. Many times, Facebook has changed the settings on old posts to “public,” meaning anyone who comes to your profile can see the post.
To easily view your old posts, you will need to click on the “Activity Log” button. This will bring up a screen that ONLY YOU can see and includes a complete list of everything you’ve shared from today back to when you joined Facebook. You can go through each and every post, photo, etc. and decide if you want it displayed on the Timeline. You can also click on the circle next to the post and decide whether or not to allow this on your Timeline. An open circle means it is visible and a circle with a line through it means it is not. Lastly, you can “star” specific posts that you want featured more prominently on your Timeline.
In the prior Facebook design, all of your personal information including birthdate, interests, education, work history, etc. were housed under the “Info” tab. In the redesign, this information is located under the “Update Info” button on the right side of the screen. You are also able to control the privacy of each piece of information.
The one thing I really want to caution people on is that Facebook wants you to feel comfortable sharing all the details of your life including many pieces of information that provide great value for identify theft. Also, remember that all of the information you post on Facebook can be shared with advertisers and other data collection sites. This may or may not be a concern of yours but is worth mentioning.
There is, of course, controversy surrounding the new Facebook redesign as there has been with all iterations of the platform. Be sure to take time to navigate the new design and re-check your privacy settings so you can feel comfortable and enjoy your Facebook experience with privacy and safety in mind.