Facebook Timeline reminds you what a berk you were in 2008

The social network is rolling out its new timeline feature, which makes your profile more of a personalised, MySpace-like home page.

Nick Hide Managing copy editor
Nick manages CNET's advice copy desk from Springfield, Virginia. He's worked at CNET since 2005.
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Nick Hide
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Brace yourself for another onslaught of status messages moaning about Facebook changing -- the social network is rolling out its new timeline feature, which makes your profile more of a personalised, MySpace-like home page.

From today you'll see a notification inviting you to set up your timeline, or you can just go here and click 'Get Timeline' at the bottom. Facebook then gives you a week to set it up before anyone else can see it, to give you a chance to choose what you want on there. Or you can just publish straight away.

Be warned: there isn't any way of changing it back. So if you're wary, wait until some of your friends have changed over and you can see how it looks. This is just an opt-in period, though -- "After that, we will begin moving the people who have not yet opted in over to the new profile," a Facebook spokesperson told us.

The biggest difference is a huge image at the top of your profile page, called a cover photo, that you select. "This space is not meant for banner ads or other promotions. Please don't use content that is commercial, promotional, copyright-infringing or already in use on other people's covers," Facebook pleads. Oh good. Thanks for that suggestion.

Under your photo is a button that says 'Activity Log'. Horrifically, this shows you everything you've ever done on Facebook, from commenting on photos to every track you've listened to on Spotify. Fortunately only you can see it, so don't worry about your boss trying to find out exactly how much time you spend on there. We strongly recommend you don't look at it too closely -- you don't need to be reminded of how much of an idiot you were several years ago.

Other timeline features include the ability to highlight or hide posts -- handy if you're particularly proud of a funny status message or cool link, or really don't want people to see that the last 30 songs you listened to were by Toto.

Zooming down memory lane

On the right of your cover photo is a list of years. Click '2009' for example and you'll be taken to the highlights of that year -- photos, links and activities from that year Facebook thinks are important to you.

We were impressed to find this highlighted entry: "Nick Hide became friends with Flora Fyfe-Graham. March 19, 2009". No doubt Flora's picked out because she's been tagged in photos with us since, or comments on our stuff. Or maybe Facebook just knows she's awesome.

You can also now edit the date on photos so if you've scanned in ancient pics of when you were a kid, you can put an appropriate date on them. This means more years will appear in your timeline at the top right and soon your entire life will be documented and searchable oh god oh god.

Links and status messages all have a little head icon next to them. Click on that and a drop-down menu lets you hide that status from certain groups of friends, although you have to configure those yourself. To be honest, if you don't want some people seeing some of the things you get up to, don't post it on Facebook at all -- it's too easy to forget to select a group or misclassify a friend.

Set up your timeline now by going here, and let us know what you think in the comments below, or over on our Facebook page. Cool or creepy? Too different? Don't like change? Get it off your chest, there, that's better.