Master Facebook's Timeline With This Handy Guide

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Edit Your Timeline

Here's how you hide info you don't want showing in Timeline.

After you've finished checking out what your public profile looks like, head back to the regular Timeline view. It's time to go through and edit your posts. Start scrolling down your Timeline, and you will be greeted with Facebook activity from your past, and also life events from historical dates that predate such as your birth or when you graduated from high school. Facebook throws a ton of information into your Timeline and it's impressive how well organized your historical information is in the new layout.

TIP: You can add new content to a specific year in Timeline by hovering over the center line in the main content window. When your mouse pointer turns into a plus sign, click to open a status update box and add an update, photo, location data or life event.

You may find some items in your Timeline that you don't want your friends to find such as a bad photo, stupid status updates, and so on. To get rid of anything you don't want people to see, hover over the right corner of the story box and click on the pencil icon, then select "Hide from Timeline." If you are trying to hide information from an app such as The Washington Post Reader, you may not have the option to hide specific posts. Instead, you can choose to hide all of an app's activity from your Timeline or remove the app altogether.

TIP: Want to limit all your old posts to just your friends in one click? Select the drop down menu at the top right of any Facebook page (when signed in) and select Privacy Settings. On the next page click on "Manage Past Post Visibility" in the "Limit the Audience for Past Posts" section. Finally, click "Limit Old Posts" in the pop-up windows that appears.

BONUS TIP: You can view activity for a specific Open Graph app in a Timeline layout by clicking on the app's box at the top of your Timeline.

Choose Timeline Features

Here's where to highlight memories in Timeline, like a great photo.

As you're wandering through your Facebook past, you may find some memories you want to emphasize, such as a photo from a great vacation, a video, or an article link.

If you want to highlight a vacation photo hover again over the top right of the story box. This time select the star icon and click it. Your content will now take up the full width of the Timeline content area. If you want to put the photo back to a normal story size, just click on the star icon again.

There are certain things that Facebook automatically highlights including life events such as graduations, marriage, new jobs, and so on. You can minimize these events if you'd rather not highlight them.

Add Your Photos

The Add Photos feature in Timeline

As you go through your Timeline, you'll come across life events, but they may not have a photo. Timeline lets you add a photo to these events if you choose. In some cases you can also add a short text explanation of your memory. In my tests, Facebook did not allow you to delete life events from within your Timeline. To edit life events you've added to Facebook select the "Update Info" option at the top of your new profile layout.

Check Your Birthplace

You don't have to do this, but if you want to include information about your birth, the first thing you should do is see if Facebook got your birthplace right. In my tests from September, Facebook assumed I was born in the location I listed as my hometown in my profile. But for many people, myself included, your birthplace may not necessarily be your hometown.

I consider my hometown to be Regina, Saskatchewan (it's in Canada, look it up), because that's where I spent the bulk of my childhood through high school. But I wasn't born there. The good news is that if you change your birthplace, it won't change the place listed as your hometown.

Timeline Controversy

Timeline is already inspiring grumbling from people who prefer the old profile page, but in my experience the new layout is a great way to see your Facebook content. Some critics are also voicing concerns over privacy arguing that Timeline makes it too easy to expose your past Facebook activity to your friends. That may be true, but it's important to remember that Timeline doesn't change the privacy settings of any of your content. It just makes it much simpler to access your content than before.

But Timeline combined with the new Activity Log also have privacy advantages since it lets you see exactly how much information you have shared on Facebook. A sobering look at your shared personal data may inspire privacy-minded individuals to permanently delete items from Facebook or think twice before adding new content.

Despite that advantage, however, there is at least one privacy concern you do need to consider. Facebook is providing you the opportunity to include very personal data into your profile such as your medical history. Sure, that's a part of your life, and some people may enjoy sharing this data with their friends. But before add the saga of your chemotherapy treatments to your Facebook profile, you may want to consider long and hard about whether this is information you really want residing on Facebook's servers.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul ) on Twitter and Google+, and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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