Facebook timeline feature becomes mandatory

Julian Stratenschulte

Up until now Facebook's 'timeline' - a new look for your profile page - has been voluntary, but the site has announced that it will become mandatory for all users over the next few weeks.

The 'new look' exposes a user's entire history on the site, and has been criticised for showing off pictures and posts which users might not want others to see.
From now, users will simply be notified that they are being 'updated' via an announcement at the top of their home page, and will have seven days to review the content on their timeline before others can see it.

The new look also pairs with 'timeline apps', such as Spotify, which post on users' profiles when they listen to a song, read an article online, or visit somewhere.

Despite reservations from some users, a proud Mark Zuckerberg said 'timeline' view will 'tell the story of your life' and give your Facebook page a more 'magazine-like' feel with a large cover photo at the top of the page. The new feature allows you to organise your life into a chronological view, even giving you the option to add 'pre-Facebook' years.

To the right of the new page layout is a timeline which shows all posts from a person's time on Facebook , and allows viewers of the profile to jump back to people's earliest posts with a month-by-month break down.

Timeline apps

When paired with Timeline apps such as Spotify, users' timelines will be filled with information on what they listen to, which films they watched, where they have eaten out and more. A user listening to Spotify on a smartphone, for instance, will default to posting every song to their Timeline for all to see.

Whilst some sites published guides on how to hide this content, once the apps are installed it can be difficult to find the settings and opt-out. Tech site CNET warns, "Once you install an app and authorize it to post stories on your profile and News Feed, it'll never ask for your permission again."

Many sites recommend carefully vetting apps before you install them to see exactly what they will post to your profile, and creating lists of friends to 'share' certain updates with rather than bombarding your whole friends list.

How to protect your privacy when your profile switches to timeline

Despite many users being shocked by not having a choice over using timeline and by how rapidly the feature will become compulsory, in a few weeks all users will have to come to terms with the new profile.

In the seven days you get to review your 'new look' you can make sure your privacy settings are as you want them to be.

Any posts, photos, status updates or activity even from your first days on Facebook will be visible. You will have to go through manually and delete or hide any of these that you don't want others to be able to see, otherwise they will be shown publicly by default.

You can customise exactly who sees what on your profile for each individual section - photos, wall posts, 'likes' - so choose which of these you want to be seen publicly, just by friends or by a customised list of individuals. Check the 'view profile as' section to make sure you're happy with what people will see.

If you do choose to enable any timeline apps, remember to read their privacy policies carefully and be especially wary of any which publicly post your exact location.


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