A first look at the new Facebook profile

I’ve bitten the bullet and had a play with the new profile in Facebook. You’ll be able to see it on 1st October. I will take you through the process of setting it up (once you’ve agreed to do so). At the moment it’s only open to developers.

When I said yes, I accepted the option to take the tour. First up you can select the cover (the large photo). It selected the most recent photo that had been tagged with my name. As you can see, this isn’t me – it’s my beautiful great-grand-nephew:

Timeline tour 1

When I clicked on ‘Choose Your Cover Now’ it gave me a selection of photos of me, and I chose one. Then I moved on to the next step:

Timeline tour 2

Yes, you can see everything in one place, including photos others have tagged you in and places you’ve checked into. I’ve only ever checked in to one place (in Geelong, VIC), so it looks like I’ve never been anywhere.

Next it shows me where my ‘activity’ is, ie, posts and comments and so on. Only I can see this list.

Then the timeline itself. I can go back in time and see my posts and stories as far back as I’ve been on Facebook.

I can go through my profile and see what’s there that I may not want others to see, and remove them from my profile. I can also highlight the ones I want a big deal made of.

Just to emphasis this removal business I’ll show the box again:

There was a lot I had to remove, and I found even more once I’d taken the tour and got stuck in.

I haven’t added any missing stories and events, but I can see how tempting it is to fill in those gaps.

I then went through all the photos of me, and clicked on the option to remove the photos tagged with my name that I didn’t want on my profile. This is the message I got for each of them:

I haven’t removed the tag (only the owner of the photo can do that) but it’s not on my profile for others to see there any more.

So here is my new profile:


It’s very pretty, I’ll say that. I do quite like the two-column arrangement of posts, and the bigger pictures look great. Pictures should be BIG, don’t you think?

What I’m not happy about is a growing list of things:

  • the photos others have tagged me in (mostly not of me) appear on my timeline. If you don’t change the main picture when Facebook roll it out to everyone you may end up with someone’s baby photo there, or a picture of a cow from Farmville.
  • if my friends have left their full dates of birth public then they appear on my timeline. This is appalling.
  • the date I first joined Facebook is now visible to everyone. I’m sure it used to be originally, but now it’s not, and soon it will be again.
  • To be safe I now have to go through each photo and each post and check who I shared it with. I have more friends now than I did when I started, and I may not be comfortable with all of them being able to see stuff I posted before I knew them.
  • The photos of me that I’ve shared (to family and friends) cover most of my life, but they appear on the timeline according to when I posted them. I can’t change this date, so my baby picture appears under 2008.
  • I also can’t change the place if it isn’t in a city. For example, the photo on my profile you can see was taken in Zaire in 1991, not Sydney in 2008.
  • I’m really not comfortable with how far back the timeline goes. Even if there are no posts or photos to show there, you can get an idea of when it starts; and by that I mean, when I was born. I can’t really get away with people thinking I was born in 1975 with a timeline like this!
  • The activity list is not in date/time order. It’s probably in order of last comment, but then it’s not my activity, is it?

There may be other things I will discover later, but that’s enough to go on with.

In short, I have privacy concerns. What appears on my profile is not entirely in my control. I have to check everything, and I mean everything, to see if it’s fit to be seen by my friends. I’ve been using lists in Facebook for a long time, but I rarely changed my setting and mostly posted to friends. Now it might be more appropriate to do this.

And that’s to say nothing of how it will work with other applications, like games. If these are going to post automatically without me needing to approve each time, as has been suggested by Ben Parr at Mashable, it will get very nasty.

I was expecting to like the changes, and I do, to a point. But unless some drastic changes are made before it rolls out to everyone, I may be leaving Facebook forever and using Google+, which I already love.


  1. You can change the dates of photos on the timeline. From any photo, choose the edit box in the right corner, then for each photo (you have to “view individual stories” if it’s an album), there is an option to “change date”. If it’s years back, you can just type the date; don’t click on the calendar month-by-month.

    I’ve also found that if I move a picture to the correct date, it can show up twice in the timeline: when it was uploaded, and when it was taken.

    The timeline seems different every time I see it, probably based on where the mouse is positioned. If I go into my photos, I can individually remove each photo from the timeline, but I can’t change the date of each, so they would have to be found on the timeline and changed there.

    And you can’t go earlier than your birth, so forget putting old family photos under the correct year, for those genealogists who have been posting them.

    I don’t have a problem with people knowing when I joined Facebook, so I don’t care if that shows. And my birthday has always been viewable to my friends. If I view my timeline as public, I don’t see my birth date, but I see far too much other stuff. There is a lot more public than I thought, like every time I attend an event or start using an app, and more photos than I remembered making public. I will have to work on that more.

    I do like the overall look of the timeline. It really doesn’t make searching my older posts any easier since it doesn’t show them all.

  2. This is very helpful, Carole. Thanks for sharing.

  3. The comment of having a picture of a cow from Farmville in you pictures made me laugh. I know many who “tag” others so they will see something. Wonder if the don’t tag me option is still there. Will have to look. I didn’t take the option to take the tour. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Carole Riley says

    I think whether your friends birthdates can be seen on your timeline depends on their settings. If their full date of birth is is visible to friends only then it appears on my timeline to me but not to others unless they are friends of theirs as well.

    Does that make sense? It’s getting complicated. I need to reactivate my old test accounts to play more with this, and it’s all feeling too much like work at the moment.

    I also found the button where you can see what your profile looks like to others. It should be in a prominent place when you edit your profile but it isn’t, it’s hidden under the tools menu. Try this out and update anything that can be seen to Public that you don’t like.

  5. Thank you for this information. Quite a few people have asked me to hover over their picture to bring up The subscribed box then go to the comments and likes option and take the tick off so that their comments and likes are not made public in the new ticker box. Is this something I should be concerned about?

  6. Carole Riley says

    Kay, the only way for them to stop their comments and likes becoming public is for them to update their preferences, and for them to not comment on public posts. There is nothing you can do for them. All you would be doing is to stop them from appearing in YOUR ticker feed.

  7. Isn’t it possible to update our profile ourselves before october ?? if so,pls leme know how to do dat.. 🙂

  8. Carole Riley says

    You can implement the new profile by going into Developer mode. Here’s how: http://mashable.com/2011/09/22/how-to-facebook-timeline/

  9. Carole Riley says

    Clearly the new Facebook profile is confusing and hard to manage for many people. It is now being rolled out to everyone and so there will be more problems like this.