Kiwis get Facebook's new Timeline first

By Matt Greenop


New Zealand will be the first country to get Facebook's brand-spanking new Timeline feature - and the rest of the world will be made to wait.

Timeline is essentially an expanded profile that can display content as users want to - rather than being bound by the standard Wall post approach.

New Zealand's legions of Facebook users, starting later today, will be able to access the new feature that the social networking giant says will give more creative control over how their content is displayed.

Facebook has taken the unusual step of giving Kiwis the first chance to play with the new expanded profile in order to gauge Timeline's performance and glean feedback from consumers.

"We chose New Zealand to be first - and I'll probably get in trouble for saying this - primarily because it is an English-speaking country," said Facebook product manager Sam Lessin.

"It's far away from our data centres,so we can monitor speed and performance."

Lessin says that there is no set roll-out schedule for Timeline into other territories.

"We're definitely taking our time with this one," he told nzherald.co.nz. "It will give people a chance to get excited about what they can do with it".

Your Timeline page will hang off a large image - Lessin says people use their current small profile pictures as a creative outlet, and the new display style will allow users to further explore their creativity "with a much bigger canvas".

Underneath the large picture - which Facebook calls a 'cover' - are the usual profile snippets like education, but will allow these to be expanded.

Apps that users access will be given more space, as will photo albums - if there's content that you want to emphasise, Timeline allows it to be moved around and expanded to suit. For example, if you're a big music fan, your music panel can be displayed more prominently.

"It's not like you are your last five posts," said Lessin, "Timeline lets you build a story. You can see where everything is, and change it at will".

Those who are granted access to your Timeline can delve back in time and see what you were up to last year, or the year before - as much as you want to share. As well as Timeline giving users far more flexibility in terms of content, privacy controls also appear to be robust.

Facebook has come under fire over privacy issues countless times since it was launched, but Timeline lets users dictate which parts of their pages can be viewed by different groups of friends, family or workmates.

It will initially default to users' current privacy settings, but once opened will be invisible to everyone for the first seven days so content can be curated. The seven day limit can be overridden as soon as you're ready to show the world your Timeline.

It appears to be a vast improvement on the cluttered profile page mess that Facebook pages often become - to see how Timeline works, check out Facebook's introductory video and read it's blogpost about the feature here.

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