Everything you want to know about the Facebook Timeline

timeline-view

The Facebook Timeline introduced many new elements to the social networking site. In addition to being a new and interesting visual format for Facebook, there are many privacy implications tied to the new layout. It’s best to think about Timeline as two-fold: how to protect your privacy as well as how to utilize your new creative options.

Here’s a breakdown that will help you best put Timeline to use. You can check out our original Timeline FAQ as well, which is more of an introduction to the basics of Timeline. 

Privacy

View as

The best way to truly realize how much you are sharing is to head over to your Timeline and check out the “view as” feature. The gear icon next to you Activity Log link reveals an option to let you view your Timeline as certain users. Check out what it looks like to friends and family. After that, you’ll be more than motivated to head over and make a few custom friends lists and start editing how public your posts are.

Friend lists

We’ve written about the importance of creating custom friends lists more than once, but the Timeline has made this more important than ever. Given the fact that you are able to scroll through time and visit moments you thought were buried in the past, it’s high time you get on board with lists.

For starters, you can use the Smart Lists Facebook has made: your close friends, family, co-workers, and those nearby you. But now you need to dictate what each of those groups can and can’t see. Which means each time you post something or upload new information, you need to check that pull down to determine who you’re sharing with. We’d advise making your close friends list include everyone you generally want to share everything with (which is how it should be) and that way you can best avoid an accidental over-share.

Past post visibility

You should also make sure to head over to your privacy settings and check out the “limit the audience for past posts” section. When Timeline hit, we immediately expressed concern over how this hurt the original Facebook generation—college kids. When the site was specifically tailored to their kind, posting “iffy” content was a little less worrisome. Now that’s not the case. Unfortunately this means that anything you made public in the past is now far easier to find.

limitThe easiest work-around is to head to this category and choose to make all past posts labeled “public” accessible to friends only.

Visuals & content

Taking care of your privacy settings is easily the most important part of the Facebook Timeline, but moving on you can focus on the more creative aspects of the new profile. There’s a lot to be said for the new possibilities the site presents via the Timeline and once you’ve gotten through the much more serious task of locking up your information you can move on to something more fun.

Life events

The easiest way to add your past to your Timeline is via the “life event” link on your page. Sure, you can use the year toggle on the right-hand side of the page, but the auto-scroll fun won’t last forever. A quicker method is to file everything you want on your Timeline under the “life events” icon.

From here you can also categorize easily, filing moments under “Family & Relationships” or “Home & Living,” etc. You can customize these life events as you so choose and send them to the correct date on your Timeline.

life events

There’s something very foreign to creating these events. Up until now, Facebook has revolved around real-time, but now users are being encouraged to tell stories from their past. Dictating in the past tense is entirely new, and it sort of creates two very different experiences within one site. Using the News Feed is real-time sharing with your friends, while using and browsing Timeline is more about cataloging and reminiscing.

Cover photo

cover photo

While the profile picture used to be your visual representation to the world, it’s now your cover photo. It takes up far more real estate and definitely steals the focus from your own image.

There are a couple of important things to know about these photos. For starters, they are all public. Even if you have customized your settings to keep all photos visible to friends-only, everyone can see your Cover photo. So most of you will want to keep things tasteful.

Images also need to be a minimum of 720 pixels wide. And don’t worry about losing your images every time you change your cover photo—they will be sorted into an album you can find under the photos tab, similarly to how it worked with profile pictures.

Featured posts  

In order to get you going with Timeline, Facebook auto-selects posts it thinks deserve to be featured on your Timeline. This might mean that your Timeline is peppered with Wall posts and pictures you have no desire being prominently displayed on your page.

The only way to find out what has been featured is to meticulously comb through your Timeline. The star icon allows you to feature stories and the pencil to edit or remove them. The gear icon allows you to make them visible to a certain group.

This last part is probably the most important thing to take stock of. For those of us who began using the site when it was only populated by college kids, making some things privy to certain eyes only is crucial.

Your questions

Last time we did a Timeline FAQ was at the developer release, so there hadn’t been time for most users to get their hands on the thing yet. So since it’s been awhile, we thought we’d take a second to directly address some of our readers’ questions in this post.

Q: “I was recently tagged in a photo, approved it, but it doesn’t show up on my Timeline in ‘Profile.’ It usually says such and such was tagged in such and such’s album, although that doesn’t show up?”

A: Now the easiest way to see the photos you’re tagged it is to defer to the Photos section on your Timeline. On the top you’ll see your personal albums and below the images you’ve been tagged in. Still, there is another way you show up on the Timeline when someone has tagged you in their photo. The thing is this is likely to get buried much faster than it used to based on Timeline’s chronological focus.

Now, if you were tagged in a handful of photos in December, Timeline will lump those together in an update reading something like “Tagged in X amount of photos in December.” It means it’s much easier to overlook, and Facebook is likely trying to encourage you to feature this data on your Timeline.

Q: Someone tags me in a photo and it comes to my Timeline, but the date is not right. How can I change the date of that photo?

A: Click on the photo in question. On the right hand side, you should see a link that says “Change Date.”

change date

Q: Why can I see old status updates from my friends on their Timelines and I can’t for people I’m only subscribed to?

A: Subscriptions are a relatively new feature and means that people—including many celebrities—will opt to keep many of their posts for friends only. If you’re a subscriber, you will only see updates they dictate to be public. And now, that’s becoming less and less common.

Q: How do I add photos to old albums?

A: First of all, you can only have 200 pictures per album. But all you need to do is go to your Timeline, click the Photos link, choose an album and from there add more photos. 

Social Media

Snapchat’s PR firm is suing an influencer for failing to influence

Snapchat's PR firm is suing a social media influencer for his alleged failure to promote Spectacles on Instagram. Actor Luka Sabbat was paid $45,000 upfront, but the suit claims he fell well short of the terms of the deal.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Wearables

Check out 25 of the best Wear OS apps for your smartwatch

Looking for some ways to spruce up that new Android smartwatch of yours? Here are the best Wear OS apps to download and use with any Android smartwatch, including a few specially enhanced for Wear OS 2.0.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Computing

Common Chrome OS problems, and how to fix them

Is something irking you about Chrome OS? Find your problem on our list of bugs, issues, and general complaints about the OS, along with easy solutions to any issues that might arise.
Computing

Urban legends for the digital age: The best scary stories from the internet

In need of some simple scares this Halloween? We've combed the internet for the best creepypastas, urban legends, and scary stories. From found footage YouTube videos to a deceptively scary wiki, these stories are sure to spook.
Mobile

WhatsApp finally gives in to the lure of cash-generating ads

WhatsApp's co-founders always said their messaging app would never show ads, but once the pair quit the company, it seemed inevitable that its owner, Facebook, would find a way to incorporate them.
Mobile

Shazam hooks up with Instagram Stories for another way to share songs

The latest update for Apple-owned Shazam lets iPhone users share music tracks to Instagram Stories in a few quick taps. To enable the feature, just make sure you have the latest version of Shazam loaded on your handset.
Social Media

Dine and dash(board): Make a Yelp reservation from your car’s control panel

Already in the car, but can't decide where to eat? Yelp Reservations can now be added to some dashboard touchscreens. Yelp Reservations searches for restaurants within 25 miles of the vehicle's location.
Computing

Hackers sold 120 million private Facebook messages, report says

Up to 120 million private Facebook messages were being sold online by hackers this fall. The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions. 
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. You're in luck -- we've gathered 23 of the best subreddits to help…
Social Media

Facebook opens pop-up stores at Macy’s, but they’re not selling the Portal

Facebook has opened pop-up stores at multiple Macy's, though they're not selling Facebook's new Portal device. Instead, they're showcasing small businesses and brands that are already popular on Facebook and Instagram.
Social Media

Facebook Messenger will soon let you delete sent messages

A feature coming to Facebook Messenger will let you delete a message for up to 10 minutes after you send it. The company promised the feature months ago and this week said it really is on its way ... "soon."
Social Media

Pinterest brings followed content front and center with full-width Pin format

Want to see Pinterest recommendations, or just Pins from followed users? Now Pinners can choose with a Pinterest Following feed update. The secondary feed eliminates recommendation and is (almost) chronological.