Facebook revamps profile with timeline concept

The company has also made it possible for media companies like Netflix to more tightly integrate their content with its site

Facebook has done an extreme makeover of its user profiles, redesigning the interface so that it's easy to surface not only recent updates but also years-old information, the company announced at its F8 developer conference on Thursday.

Facebook has also upgraded its application platform so that gaming and media companies can more tightly integrate their content and services with the social networking site.

The new profile design is called Timeline and features a variety of interface and functionality changes geared toward letting users tell the full story of their lives, instead of just their most recent activities, according to the company.

The Timeline will still feature recent updates, but it will also summarize past events and feature the most important ones in a single page people can scroll through.

The Timeline will also provide new interface controls to filter posts according to different criteria, such as seeing only photos or calling up a specific year.

"It has all your stories, all your apps and a new way to express who you are," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a keynote speech that was webcast from San Francisco.

Now, in order to call up older posts in profiles, Facebook users have to click a button that expands the activity stream list, a poor user experience, Zuckerberg said.

Instead, Timeline is "the story of your life," he said. It will be available in a few weeks.

If the most recent version of the profile provides fodder for a 15-minute chat, Timeline offers enough information for an in-depth, hours-long conversation about a person's life, he said.

People will also be able to fill in the Timeline retroactively with old photos and place them in the appropriate chronological spot. Current privacy settings and controls will apply to the Timeline interface so people can establish who can see what.

Timeline will also feature a new Ticker section, where Facebook will put automatically generated notifications of user actions, such as when people "like" a webpage or establish new friend connections.

On a related announcement, Zuckerberg said those automated notifications will grow in scope, so that people can share what music they're listening to, what movies or TV shows they're watching and what news articles they're reading.

Through an upgrade to the application development platform, Facebook is making it possible for companies like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and Yahoo to more tightly integrate their online services and content with the social networking site.

In various ways, Facebook members will be able to notify their friends automatically about activities on those four and dozens of other media sites, and their friends will be able to call up the songs, TV shows and other content right from within the Facebook interface.

The CEOs of Netflix and Spotify both took the stage and said that the Facebook integration will help their companies increase usage of their respective services, as well as benefit the content makers -- movie producers, recording artists and the like.

The platform upgrade will also allow for a more satisfying social gaming experience, in which sharing and interaction is smoother and reduces interruptions from automated prompts, according to Facebook.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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