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Facebook launches Timeline for Pages

The new timeline feature is now available for Pages as well as personal profiles, allowing users to visually check out the history of a business or brand.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Companies with a Facebook profile can now update their page to use the new Timeline feature.

Doled out to individual FB users last year, the Timeline presents information in a more visual two-column format. The design allows friends and followers to view a company's products and scroll down to see a history of its Facebook posts from the past.

Organizations with pages can jump to the Timeline starting today, but the new look and layout will become mandatory on March 30. The Timeline feature applies to anyone or anything with a public page, including local businesses, national companies, products, brands, public figures, causes, and communities.

Facebook has created a help page explaining the Timeline feature for businesses and answering common questions and concerns.

The Timeline was initially rolled out to individuals as an option but became mandatory earlier this month. But like most changes unveiled by Facebook, this one has garnered a thumbs down from some users.

A whopping 70 percent of those polled earlier this month by opinion site SodaHead said they didn't like the Timeline. Only 20 said they dig the new feature, while the rest don't use Facebook.

An earlier poll of CNET users found that 37 percent use the Timeline only because they're forced to, while 19 percent claimed they're dumping Facebook for Google+. Only 21 percent said they like the feature, while 12 percent said it's not too bad once you get used to it.

One potential gotcha is that the Timeline delves into your past, revealing posts and pictures that you may not want people to find so easily.

But the very features that turn off individual users may prove valuable to organizations.

Using the Timeline, a company can draw in followers by displaying a large image, logo, and description of itself at the top of the page. Photos, Likes, and Events are easily accessible from the top, providing a quick overview of the business and its various products or services.

Companies can change the post that appears near the top of the page to highlight recent or important items. They can also more easily see and respond to recent activity, messages, and other highlights at the top.

And though individual users may want to hide certain embarrassing aspects of their past, organizations can use the Timeline to take users on an historical tour. The New York Times Timeline, for example, travels all the way back to 1851, displaying an image of the very first copy of the paper to be published.

Updated 8:00 a.m. PT with more details on the Timeline.