Facebook has finally introduced its much-publicized profile revamp called “Timeline.” Now, user profiles appear in a digital scrapbook format organized chronologically, which highlights the most important and memorable moments of your life—on Facebook. The new format has garnered praise, and criticism from users concerned about their profile privacy. Previously, there was no way to review a profile’s history without clicking into oblivion. Now, Timeline makes your entire Facebook activity history easily searchable—and highlights the stand-out moments (including the posts that received the most attention, which could be a drunk party photo that you’d prefer your new coworkers not see). The bad news for those not eager to revisit their past is that eventually all Facebook users will have to adopt the Timeline format. The good news? You can do some damage control before your Timeline goes live. Here’s a cheat sheet to protect your privacy on Timeline.
Make Changes Within Seven Days. You can choose to activate Timeline now or wait until Facebook converts all profiles, but the most important thing to know is that whenever the transition happens, you will have seven days after notification to make all necessary edits to your profile before it goes live. You can push your profile live at any time during these seven days, but after that it will publish automatically.
Review Your Activity Log. The Activity Log is where you can see all your Facebook activity from the beginning, review the privacy settings of certain posts, and feature, hide, or delete all posts. Only you can see your Activity Log, so use it as your dashboard to review your content. One good first step before you start adjusting is to automatically make all posts viewable only to friends (this way only your personal network can see your Timeline when it goes live, regardless of previous privacy settings). Go to your Privacy Settings page, click “Limit the Audience for Previous Post,” click “Manage Past Post Visibility,” and select “Limit Old Posts.” You can then adjust the visibility of individual posts later.
Hide Posts You Don’t Want Anyone to See. As you review your profile, you can hide—or delete—anything cringe-worthy or questionable content, including photos, comments, status updates, etc. In the Activity Log, click on the circle icon, and select “Hidden on Timeline” or “Delete Post.” If you’re reviewing the post on your timeline page, hover over the top right corner of the post and click the pencil icon to see your visibility options.
Limit the Posts You Want Some People to See. For those posts you only want specific people to see, go to your timeline page, click the “people” icon by your name, and select the appropriate group you want to grant visibility to (including custom, in which you can select particular people).
Preserve Posts Only You Want to See. If there is a post in your Timeline you want to keep, but you don’t want your network to see, you can make it visible only to you by clicking the pencil icon and selecting “Only Me.” Note: You can only do this to your own posts, not those made by others.
Whether you hop on the Timeline train today or wait until you have to, consider carefully what information you share on Facebook and all your social networks.