Navigating Facebook Timeline

Facebook Timeline is topping my news feed again as more users are forced to convert. All those procrastinators who didn’t make the change on their own time, are now dealing with the Timeline on Facebook’s timeline. It is a bit scattered, and sometimes hard to find things but it’s the new reality for this free service we’re all addicted to. It’s time to revisit what the Timeline is all about and how to customize it for you.

1. First, add a cover. This is the picture you want profiled. Pick a good one, because it’s large. I originally had a vertical photo, but the cover space is more wide than tall so I think a horizontal photo works best. You can tweak the picture a little, but not enough in my opinion for a vertical photo.

Uploading a new photo takes some time, but it happens so be patient.

You want your cover photo to be different than your profile picture as that will appear in a box to the lower left of the cover photo.

2. Now, it’s time to review your posts on your Facebook Timeline. Hover over a story or post and click the star icon to feature an item and make it widescreen.

When you do this, it disrupts the flow a bit but experiment and see if you like it. It’s easy to minimize if you don’t like it. The pencil icon will allow you to hide or delete a post.

3. Facebook decides which posts will be part of your timeline and which ones will be hidden.When there is a post along your timeline, there is a dot. Look closely. Some of these dots are not associated with any posts because the dot represents a hidden When you notice this, hover over the dot  and you can see what the post says that’s hiding. While hovering, you can decide if you want to feature it or add it to your timeline.

4. Go to the upper right corner just under the cover photo and click on the Activity Log. It’s a way to manage everything you share on Facebook and it’s private. On you see the log.  Here, you can control what hits your Timeline and who sees it.

It’s much more obvious who is seeing your posts with this activity log. I recently discovered on the old Facebook profile that even if your page is private, people can see your wall posts that you made on other people’s pages and are thus subject to their privacy policies. Now, with the activity log it’s easy to control which posts are public and who actually sees them. For example, a wall post about a friends birthday showed me that all his friends can see that. It might not seem like a big deal for a birthday, but on a more sensitive post be careful if you want to keep certain aspects your life private. Having a private profile doesn’t mean everything is private. The activity log really makes this easy to follow.

An open circle on the activity log means it’s allowed on your timeline and a circle with a line through it means it’s hidden.

For more about the activity log, I highly recommend you read the Facebook explainer for more tips and tricks.

5. Map your pictures. You’ll notice the map just below your cover photo. Click on it, and you’ll be taken to a large screen of map with pictures above it. I was amazed at how many are already mapped. Things you think Facebook doesn’t know about you but really does because someone checked you into a place or previously tagged the location of a photo.

When you try to add the location of some photos, Facebook doesn’t always know where that location really is. For example, I took a girls trip to Belize recently, and Facebook mapped it in Houston, Texas.  See below.

It had one picture mapped correctly in Belize, but another friend tagged it with the name of the place we stayed. If you go generic and just do the city like Placencia, Belize it may not show up in the right place especially if it’s a different country.

It’s an interesting feature, but I think it tells a little too much about you. I think I’ll proceed with caution. I don’t mind telling people where I’ve been, but not where I am. It’s clearly a way for Facebook to get more users to use the Places feature so it might be hard to control if friends tag you as being at that place while you’re still there. For me, it’s sort of like Foursquare especially since any changes to your map are added to your News Feed. I understand social media is meant to be social and allow you to gather in places outside the Internet, but this is a little bit too much information if used and broadcast while you’re visiting that “Place.”

6. Privacy, privacy, privacy. Do we have any with all these social media changes? It’s hard to keep your information personal without doing a lot of work. I think it’s worth the time if you are somewhat interested in privacy and truly only want to share information with your true friends.

Ever wonder what your profile looks like to someone who is not your friend? There’s a button next to your activity log that with a drop down box that says “View as.” Click that and you’ll be able to view your profile as the public sees it. This will really help you decide if your privacy settings are what you want them to be.

7. You need to give Facebook your phone number to post photos from your smartphone. Want to make sure your phone number is not public? Watch this extremely information tutorial from CNET to find tips and tricks to make sure your page is as private as you want it to be. It’s worth the 3 minutes and you’ll learn a lot.

Overall impression
Overall, Timeline is not as intimidating as you might think. It just takes some time to go through your posts and make sure the ones you want featured are visible, and the ones you don’t want people to see are not visible. This is really time consuming if you are a frequent poster, don’t filter your posts, or you have been on Facebook for an extended period of time.

Also, make sure your uploaded pictures are good ones because they are quite large and prominent in Timeline. Pictures associated with a link remain about the same size.

I’m not a fan of the layout as I think it’s a bit sloppy as it Timeline’s your life. I also think it’s hard to find things on individual pages. You really need to know when something was posted.  Before I’d just click “more posts” and I’d eventually find what I needed. Really, when I use Facebook I mostly read the news feed. I don’t interact with the Timeline much at all. So, it’s a headache at first but give it some time and it will dull.

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