Facebook pushes out Timeline of users' online lives

Users have a week to hide embarrassing pictures and status updates

Remember that photo of you at last year's company holiday party? It was so embarrassing the day your Facebook friends kept commenting on it.

Well, it's baaaack.

Facebook announced today that it's making its new Timeline feature available worldwide.

The Timeline does exactly what it sounds like it will do -- it's designed to automatically organize your status updates, relationship changes, videos and photos (yes, even the embarrassing ones) into an interactive timeline of your online life.

Timeline isn't brand new. Facebook announced its development at the company's f8 conference in September. As of today, however, it's widely available.

"Timeline gives you an easy way to rediscover the things you shared, and collect your most important moments," wrote Paul McDonald, a Facebook engineer, in a blog post. "It also lets you share new experiences, like the music you listen to or the miles you run."

McDonald added that Facebook will be adding to Timeline, which will also be available on Android and m.facebook.com, over the next few months.

Some users should already be seeing an announcement at the top of their profile about getting Timeline. Anyone who doesn't have the announcement yet and doesn't want to wait for it, can go to the Introducing Timeline page and push the change.

In his blog, McDonald noted that moving to the new Timeline will replace a user's old profile page but none of their status updates or photos should be lost. And when users begin using Timeline, they'll have seven days to review everything that appears before it goes public.

He also said that users can see how their Timeline appears to Facebook friends by clicking on the "gear menu" at the top of their Timeline. Just select "View As."

Have something you'd like to highlight in your Timeline, like the day you got a new job or your wedding day? Roll over that information and click on the star that appears to expand the update.

Conversely, if you want to keep something private, like that drunken office party, move the cursor over it and click on the pencil that appears. That allows you to hide something, edit it or even delete it.

According to McDonald, users also can use the privacy dropdown menu to adjust who can see any of their posts. They can select to make something public or elect to just make it visible to friends or they can even select "Only Me" so no one else can see it.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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