Facebook Puts On a Few Pounds: Stories, Ticker, Timeline and More

Facebook Timeline
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If you haven’t visited Facebook in a while, you might want to. Recently Facebook announced a slew of new features before and during its annual F8 conference for developers. These features aren’t just for developers. They’re directly aimed at users to add how you can find interesting news, provide a new Timeline look at your Facebook profile, invites brands to help you create more content to fill up your new Timeline with, and much more. Here’s a recap of the latest changes happening on Facebook.

 

Top Stories

Facebook Top Story

Top Stories are supposed to be the “front page” status updates from your friends in your news feed. Facebook selects these by default, but you have the option of marking or removing updates as top stories. There’s nothing”front page” about anything read on Facebook, and the picks for “top stories” proves it. If there’s any rhyme or reason to top stories, it’s hard to pinpoint. It’s the feature I use the least and want to get rid of the most. I frequently remove the top stories tag from not only my friends updates, but my own status updates. Talk about redundant.  ReadWriteWeb Founder, Richard MacManus goes into more details about how disastrous this feature is in, Facebook, you’re not a newspaper.

Top stories needs a lot of work. Wouldn’t it make more sense to see the most active stories at the top of my news feed? That’s what I’d like to see rising to the top of my news feed. The best idea for Facebook top stories that I’ve heard would be from my TED colleague Shanna Carpenter. She said,

The Top Story algorithm needs some work. Generally, I think these algorithms should allow for more human input. I want to be able to complete a set of preferences about what/who I want to see and how many posts I want to see.

Shanna, I’ll take anything else I can get.

 

News Ticker

You’ll either love or hate the Facebook ticker, a stream of every action your friends take or send to Facebook. Instead of seeing minor comment or profile change updates in your news feed, that stuff now appears in the ticker. To see more details about anything in the ticker, simply click on it  and a little box will appear next to each update.

Facebook Ticker

I enjoy the news ticker because I can see what’s going on with my friends in real-time unlike the news feed. It’s fast and instantaneous. You can quickly click on an item, see all the details and leave a comment without leaving the news feed. I see this feature as a time saver, especially for journalists and bloggers, but you can always kill the Facebook ticker using the Lifehacker guide or by using this Google Chrome extension.

 

Timeline

Facebook Timeline is one of the biggest changes yet to come your Facebook profile. It’s a complete profile makeover. Beyond the new aesthetics, Timeline will allow you to dive into your Facebook history like never before. It’s designed to be a digital story of your life, or the closest thing to your digital identity. Your status updates are now available for browsing and very easily. Your life is now on display for the world (or just your friends) starting with your birth. I’d hate to be a kid from the future with a mom that uses Facebook now. You’ll either love it or hate it, but there won’t be any turning back when Timeline goes public.

Corvida Raven's Timeline on Facebook (Click to Enlarge)

The new Timeline can be broken down in three ways:

  • Cover photo: This is just a huge picture headlining your profile. I used a picture of myself, but you might like to try adding a photo from a recent trip or maybe one of you and your significant other.
  • Stories: This not only includes status updates, but memorable events that you can “star” to feature on your profile page. At the end of each month a summary of the friends you’ve added, places you’ve been, and pages you’ve liked, will be displayed as separate events.
  • Apps: Social apps are a new class of apps using Facebook’s Open Graph. Facebook currently has an Open Graph Platform Showcase of all the companies that are currently integrated with Open Graph. The purpose of these apps is to make everything you do social. Facebook is moving beyond it’s “like” button with these new apps.

You can enable Facebook Timeline right now in eight easy steps, but expect it to be available to the public within the next month.  I warn you to recheck all privacy and security settings after switching over to Timeline. You know how Facebook is. When you enable Timeline you will get access to a private log of all your Facebook activity. The Activity Log can be filtered to show all of your activities or specific types such as music you’ve played from a specific app. It’s worth looking into if only to see your past on Facebook and a hide a few things you forgot all about.

 

Too Social? Too Complicated?

With these new changes and others like subscriptions to Facebook profiles and smart lists, you have to wonder where’s Facebook going with all of this? Is Facebook is getting too complicated? The timeline is supposed to be the story of your life. With subscriptions and smart lists, people are subscribing to that story. Now, Facebook is asking developers for there help in filling in the blanks of the story with other activities that you like to do. Is this is the story of your life? I think Facebook is wrong in thinking that the stuff I share on Facebook is the story of my life. My life is far from the stuff I share on Facebook. Very far.

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