Playing with Facebook Timeline

This week, while the kids are playing with their new toys, I am playing with Facebook’s new Timeline feature. Timeline changes the format of the profile page. Right now this is a choice but soon every profile will switch to the new format.  Timeline profiles resemble an online scrapbook listing every photo and post in reverse chronological order. All of this content makes for one cluttered scrapbook. After taking the Timeline tour I began trying to organize my new profile. Below is a quick overview of some the new features with a few hints to get started.

The fun part – adding a Cover Photo  This is by far the most fun feature. The cover photo expands across the top of your profile page and resembles a heading for a blog.  The profile picture is still there but in a small box in the left hand corner. Like the profile picture, cover photos are public.  Most kids will love designing a cover photo. A quick search on”Facebook cover photos” already reveals a lot of creative covers. Many covers incorporate the profile picture and the cover photo. This is one of my favorites —

The creepy part – the Map   The Map has all of the places you have previously checked into through Facebook. I am not a fan of the map feature, especially for kids. It is one thing to have an occasional check in buried in the newsfeed. It is another to see them all displayed on a map. For kids under 18, Facebook’s location sharing is turned off and only friends can see checks in. If a kid has enabled location sharing, they should take a look at the map and consider removing location data.

The tedious part – review all “Likes”  Likes are now all grouped together, right at the top of the page. Kids may not want their friends to remember they once “liked” Hannah Montana. To remove, click on the page’s name, then select “Unlike.” Kids can also review their interests and add or remove by clicking the “Edit” button at the top.

The decision – add more buttons  Besides Like and Maps, kids can add other social apps. These apps can link to other accounts and allow kids to share what they are listening to, watching or reading. Kids may want to think twice before linking up accounts and allowing automatic sharing.  If they do decide to link accounts, there is an in-line audience selector on the app install screen that controls who can see your activity from that app. After installing an app, kids can also view and manage their privacy settings under App Settings.

The most important part – review privacy settings  Privacy settings should be the same. But, this is a good time to scroll through and check settings especially for earlier posts. Remember, posts originally seen by the original 10 Facebook friends can now be seen by all 100+ current Facebook friends. Kids may want to make earlier posts more private. It is easy to click on the small icon of the world in the left hand corner and change the setting.

The next step – Clean up   When first scrolling through timeline, it appears less like a scrapbook and more of a jumbled mess.  Everything, no matter how insignificant, is present. Most kids will want to take some time to scroll through their posts and pictures and remove content. It is easy to hide posts and pictures from your timeline by clicking on the pencil in the right upper corner. Favorite posts and pictures can be highlighted by clicking on the star.  Hiding posts on the timeline does not delete the information. Posts still remain on the activity log but only the profile owner can see the activity log.

The final decision – Giving Facebook more information  When you switch to Timeline, you’ll notice a new button on the status update bar called Life Event. Life Events are important moments that Facebook may have missed.  Timeline offers a place to add photos, dates and a back story about these events. This feature appears most useful to people who joined Facebook late in life and want to fill in their timeline. Kids probably have already shared their life events.

After choosing Timeline, Facebook gives you 7 days to play with it. After that, Facebook automatically publishes your Timeline. Before publishing, kids can review it by clicking on “view as” under the cog to the left of the Activity Log. This tool shows how the profile looks to “Everyone” as well as just “Friends.” For more inspiration, check out these creative Facebook cover photos .

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  1. Pingback: Questions about Facebook Timeline « Kids Privacy

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