The new Facebook timeline is a beautiful work of art… and also a potential dangerous source of information        Tweet This for business owners and others worried about their online reputation.

If you’re just setting up your Timeline, then here are the five things you want to make sure you check.

1) Your Cover Art

The most striking new feature of the new timeline is the cover image. Adding a new cover image is an easy thing to do and can add a lot of color to your profile.  All you need to do is click on the “change cover” text (see #1 below) and facebook will prompt you to upload a photo.

2) View Your Profile as “Public”

After you upload a cover photo, go ahead and view your profile as “public.”  This will show you what anyone and EVERYONE on Facebook will see when they view your profile… and it’s easy to do.  1) Click on the little down arrow (see 2a in the image below), click on the “view as” option. 2) when the page reloads, click on the word “public” at the top of the page (see 2b).  This will show you what anyone on Facebook can see when they go to your profile.  If you’re not comfortable with any of the items, then…  on to step three.

3) Hiding things from your timeline!  (plus changing dates!)

Because the new Timeline makes all of our previous Facebook activity easy to access, there’s quite likely a few things you’ll want to hide.  (Around the office, folks were hiding embarrassing photos, crude wall posts from “friends”, and overly endearing updates with previous partners!). With unfavorable items, you can always untag, delete or simply “hide” the item from your timeline.  It’s really easy to do… Simply select the pencil icon (see 3) on the top right hand corner of the content you plan to update and select the “hide from timeline.”  This is also the option you can use to add a location to a update and/or change the date of the item, which can be great for photos posted by your family from when you were a cute kid.  🙂

4) Photo Permissions

Photos get their own permission logic that’s worth understanding.  With photos posted under either “Mobile Uploads” or “Wall Photos”, you have the option to adjust permissions on a photo-by-photo basis.  For all other albums, photo permissions are done at the album level and you can easily adjust these from your photo page.   Simply look for the “icon” under the album and select the level of “sharing” that you’re comfortable with for that album (see 4).   Because I have a fairly “public” persona, I post lots of public photos, but for most people, you’ll probably want to set your settings to “friends” or “friends of friends”.

5) Sort Using Activity Log

Finally, you’ll want to check out the “activity log” for your profile. This is a helpful tool where you can look up the various status updates by type.  In other words, are you most concerned with videos?  Facebook gives you a tool to filter all your timeline updates by video posts.   Ditto for photos, posts by others, and many other options (see 5). This is a great tool for making lots of changes quickly!

At first, the new Facebook Timeline can feel quite invasive… But it’s likely that Facebook is going to turn this on for everyone at some point, so you might as well get ahead of the curve and be prepared.

And if you have any other tips for navigating the new Timeline feature, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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