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Customizing the Content of Facebook's (New) New Timeline Page

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Facebook recently released an update to its new Timeline page. This (new) new Timeline features a fixed left-hand column filled with information about you. In this article, author Michael Miller shows you how to customize what displays on your new Timeline - and determine who can see it.
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We’ve been living with Facebook’s new Timeline page for about a year now. Despite a bevy of initial complaints about the redesign of what used to be known as one’s personal profile page, users have come to accept (if not actually to love) the better-designed visual presentation of information on the Timeline.

Time – and Timelines – stand still for no man, however, and Facebook has recently given the Timeline page a facelift. Just as you got used to the original new Timeline, it’s time for a (new) new Timeline. Let the grousing begin.

What’s New on the New Timeline Page

Previously, the Timeline page displayed personal content at the top and status updates below. That’s changed somewhat.

The top of the revised Timeline page still displays a cover image and profile picture; although, the person’s name is now reversed (in white) from the cover image. There are buttons for Friends (configure friend settings or send a friend request), Message (opens a chat window), Give Gift (really), and Settings (that’s the gear icon, with a variety of minor configuration options). If a newer friend doesn’t have a lot of other friends yet, you may also see a Suggest Friends button.

Figure 1 The new top of the Timeline page.

Under the cover image are four tabs and a More button, with the Timeline tab selected by default. Select About to view this person’s personal information; select Photos to view his Photos page; select Friends to view his Friends page; and select More to view this person’s hobbies and interests.

Beneath this header section, the Timeline still utilizes a two-column format. But instead of status updates appearing in both columns (and, if highlighted, spreading across the two), the new Timeline reserves the left column for static information and places all status updates in the right column.

Figure 2 The new Timeline page – information boxes in the left column, status updates in the right.

At the top of the left column, then, you can find the About box, which displays basic personal information – profession, schooling, location, relationship status, and so forth. Beneath that is the Photos box, which displays (in a grid) the nine most recent photos of the person; click the header to go to that person’s Photos page.

Next is the Friends box, with nine friends displayed in a grid. Click the Friends header to see this person’s Friends page.

Next up are boxes for various hobbies and interests: Music, Movies, TV Shows, Books, and the like. Click a thumbnail for a given item to view that item’s page; click the box header to go to the main Music or Movies or whatever page.

Beneath that is a box for Likes – Facebook pages this person has liked. A Groups box is beneath that, listing Facebook groups this person belongs to. Then there’s a Notes box, which displays any notes this person has posted to Facebook. Again, click the header to view the main page for each category.

Following the Notes box are boxes for any third-party apps connected to this person’s Facebook account. For example, if you post to Pinterest or Instagram, you can see Pinterest or Instagram boxes on the page, with recent activity highlighted. Click a header to display more posts from a given app.

Finally, the bottom of the left column displays the Recent Activity box, which displays all recent activities for apps, likes, and events. And that’s the left column.

The right column, after you get past the obligatory Publisher (status update) box at the top, consists of a scrolling list of status updates, most recent first. This is a continuously scrolling list, so you’ll never get to the bottom of it. (The left column stops at the bottom, whereas the right column keeps scrolling.) Highlighted posts appear with a blue starred “flag” in the top-right corner.

Customizing What Shows on Your Timeline

As you’re probably aware, there are a number of things you can personalize about your Timeline. You can change your profile picture, of course (just click it and select Edit Profile Picture), as well as add or change the top-of-page cover image (click it and select Change Cover).

You can also determine just what information boxes display in the left column of the Timeline. The About, Photos, and Friends boxes can’t be removed, but you have the option of displaying or not displaying every other box. You can also rearrange the order of these boxes (except for the About, Photos, and Friends boxes, again).

To select which boxes display, click the Edit or Remove (pencil) button at the top right of any box; then click Edit Sections. This displays the rather long Edit Sections panel, with all available sections listed. Check those boxes you want to display, and uncheck those you’d rather hide.

Figure 3 Managing the sections on your Timeline page.

To change the order of these boxes, click and drag any given section to a new position in the list. When you finish editing, click the Save button.

Facebook also enables you to determine who can view any given section. Click the Edit (pencil) button for a given section and then click Edit Privacy. This displays an Edit Privacy box for that item; click the Privacy button and make your selection from the options here – Public, Friends, and so forth. Click Close when you finish.

Managing Timeline Posts

You can also select which status updates appear in the right column of your Timeline. By default, every post you make appears here, with the newest at the top. But it’s an easy thing to hide just about any post so that it doesn’t display.

Go to the post you want to hide, and click the Edit or Remove (pencil) button in the top-right corner. This displays a pop-up menu that is slightly different for different kinds of posts.

To hide this post from the Timeline, select Hide from Timeline. This doesn’t delete the post (which means you can unhide it at any given time); it just removes it from view. If you’d rather delete the post completely, click Delete instead.

Figure 4 Hiding or deleting a post from the Timeline.

Although you can’t change the order of the status updates in your Timeline, you can highlight the ones you feel are more important. To do this, click the Highlight (star) button in the top-right corner of that post. To “unhighlight” a previously highlighted post, click the Highlight button again.

Updating Personal Information

The About tab of your Timeline page displays all your personal information, typically entered when you first created your Facebook account. You can edit or update this information any time you like.

All you have to do is open your Timeline page and click the Update Info button that rests on top of your cover image. This displays your About page in editing mode. This page is organized into several major sections: Work and Education, Living, Basic Information, Contact Information, Relationship, Family, and so forth.

Figure 5 Editing personal information on the About page.

To edit the information in a given section, click the Edit button for that section. You can then click Edit for any item within the section, make the edits you want, and then click the Save Changes button. When you finish editing a given section, click the Done Editing button and move to the next section of interest.

You can also use the About page to edit or add items to any of your personal interest categories, such as Music or Movies. Scroll down to the given section, and click the Add button to add a new item. To remove an existing item, click the Edit button for that item and then click Delete.

If the item is for a page you’ve liked, you see a Liked button instead of the Edit button. To remove this page, click the Liked button and select Unlike.

Viewing and Editing Your Activity Log

To view or edit all your Facebook activity, including status updates and uploaded photos, click the Activity Log button on the cover image of your Timeline page. This displays your personal Activity Log, which displays all your Facebook activity in reverse chronological order. For each activity listed, you can change the privacy setting (who can see it) or delete the item entirely.

Figure 6 Viewing and managing activities in the Activity Log.

To change who can view an item, click the privacy setting and make a new selection. You can choose from Public, Friends, Friends Except Acquaintances, Only Me, or Custom. You can also select custom friends lists to view an item.

To delete an item from Facebook, click the Allowed on Timeline button. From here you can opt to highlight the item, allow it on your timeline, hide it from your timeline (without deleting it), or delete it completely. You can also, if you want, change the date for the item, add a location, and – for items you’ve shared from others – report it as spam.

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