The case of the mysterious, vanishing Facebook Timeline redesign

urlFacebook is rolling out a new Timeline design, one that makes photos larger and streamlines your information. The redesign makes your profile look less cluttered and more modern, and it’s pretty much indisputably good-looking. It’s like the Ryan Reynolds of redesigns: Not super-exciting but definitely aesthetically pleasant.

caption test
The two-column new Timeline

But for some of the people who got new, beautiful Timeline early, it was too good to last. Some users who saw their profiles and Timelines change into the new format had it quickly revert back to the old format. Social media coach Dr. Laura Rubinstein alerted me to this pattern of new profiles changing back to old, and I reached out to Facebook to find out why they so cruelly snapped the pretty new profiles back to the old versions.

A Facebook representative explained that they are running tests on the new Timeline, so certain people are part of the test group “to provide us feedback to help improve the service.”

Inside Facebook reports some users are seeing a version of the new Timeline that runs in a single column, while others are getting Timeline with two columns, and Facebook confirmed that the variation between new Timelines was intentional. This means the company may be gauging which version is more popular, and that it will continue to make design decisions during this testing phase.

The single-column new Timeline
The single-column new Timeline

 It’s not clear which version of the Timeline will emerge triumphant, or how extensively Facebook is making adjustments to the versions people saw this past week.

Alterations to the Facebook design generally get greeted with criticism from people who don’t like changes, and this slow, measured roll out shows how Facebook is making sure there are more people smiling than shaking their fists about the redesign. But if you’re seeing your Timeline switch back and forth, just know that testing is still being done, and you’ll be the recipient of some new profile soon enough. 

Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny, muffled TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.

The best noise-canceling headphones paint your music on a cleaner canvas

Drowning out the sound of babies, jet engines, and the outside world isn't as difficult as it seems. Here are the best noise-canceling headphones, whether you're concerned with style, comfort, or sound.
Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Social Media

Twitter’s experimental Twttr app is even more popular than the real thing

Twttr, the new app that lets regular Twitter users test new features, is proving more popular than the main app, according to the company. The revelation suggests some of the innovations may land for all Twitter users soon.
Social Media

Messenger and Facebook, together again? Facebook tests integrating chats

Longing for the old days where Facebook and Messenger were one app? Facebook is testing an integrated chat option. While Messenger remains more feature-rich, the test brings some chat functionality back into the Facebook app.
Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down worldwide for 2 hours this morning

Chaos erupted on the internet this morning, as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp all went down from 6:30 a.m. to approximately 9 a.m. Thousands of users were unable to access the sites or send or receive Whatsapp messages.
Social Media

How to download Instagram Stories on iOS, Android, and desktop

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.

Skype screen sharing for mobile will let you share your swipes on dating apps

Skype is prepping the launch of screen sharing for mobile so you can share your swipes on dating apps, shop with buddies, or, perhaps, show a PowerPoint presentation to coworkers. It's in beta just now, but anyone can try it.
Social Media

Facebook toys with mixing Stories and News Feed into one swipeable carousel

Facebook's News Feed could look a lot like Stories if a prototype the social media giant is working on rolls out to users. The design change mixes Stories and News Feed posts into a full-screen slideshow that users swipe left to navigate.
Social Media

No more moon showers as Facebook Messenger’s dark mode gets official rollout

Facebook Messenger launched a dark mode last month, but to activate it you had to message the crescent moon to someone. Now it's been rolled out officially, and it can be accessed in a far more sensible way — via settings.

Twitter has revealed a launch date for its handy hide replies features

Twitter has revealed a launch date for a feature that lets users hide replies to their tweets. The hope is that it will help the original poster filter out offensive or irrelevant content from conversation threads.
Smart Home

Oh, Zuck, no! Facebook rumored to be creating a voice assistant to rival Alexa

Facebook hasn't been a big player in the smart speaker market, but that may be changing: The social media giant is reportedly working on a digital assistant to compete against Alexa and others.
Social Media

Facebook says it unintentionally uploaded email contacts of 1.5 million users

Facebook says that over the last two years it unintentionally uploaded the email contacts of 1.5 million users as they signed up to the social networking service. The process has ended and the email addresses are being deleted.