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What Do Facebook's Changes Mean to You?

We explain the main adjustments to the popular social network.

En español | Facebook has just made several significant changes to the world's most popular social network, with another major alteration right around the corner. For the most part, these are real improvements, though you will have to learn some new tricks to make the most of the revised service. And as always with Facebook, with new power comes new privacy concerns.

What Do Changes to Facebook Mean for You?

There are several new changes to the popular social network, Facebook. — Illustration by Erin Freedman

See Also: Social networking how-to guides.

Timeline

The most positive step is precisely the one that isn't available to the public just yet — a replacement for the familiar Profile page. Right now, your personal Profile page displays your background info, the stuff you like, your friends and your Facebook postings in a fairly functional, though frankly ugly layout. Within the next few weeks your Profile will disappear and Timeline will take its place.

Unlike the cluttered Profile, Timeline is a handsomely designed presentation. There's room at the top for a large photo (in addition to your existing profile photo) to show a scene that's important to you. This is followed by your basic info, and then a chronological display of posts, photos, videos and status changes you've shared on Facebook since becoming a member, all on one continuous page. Want to see what you posted last November? Four years ago on your anniversary? No need to keep hitting an "Older posts" button till your finger gets sore — just scroll down. It sounds time-consuming, but it really zooms along very smoothly. I'd still like to see a full-featured search capability added to Facebook, but I guess they need to hold off on some improvements so they'll have a big announcement for next year.

It would be cumbersome to include everything you've posted on Facebook in your Timeline. Instead, the most significant items are displayed, with more stories shown for recent activity and fewer as you scroll down. For starters, Facebook takes its best guess at what's worth displaying — personal photos and relationship status changes outrank a new restaurant you discovered, for example. But all your posts are actually available on the Timeline, some featured in pretty boxes, others represented by gray dots on the line that reveal their contents when you hold your mouse over them. You're free to highlight, move and remove stories, add items to fill in the gaps, change image sizes and so on. Basically, it's a scrapbooker's dream come true in digital form, and a lot easier to share than hauling around bound volumes.

PROS: Your Facebook Profile is transformed into a visually appealing, information-rich, online scrapbook.

CONS: Customizing the Timeline till it's just right will require learning a new system and putting in some effort on your part.

 

Next: Changes to the Newsfeed and Ticker. >>

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