Make the New Facebook Profile Work For You

Whenever Facebook rolls out a new feature or tweaks its layout, it usually faces an uproar of criticism from users who had grown oh-so-accustomed to its previous format. The notable exception to this rule, however, is the social network’s new profile page layout.

Unveiled earlier this month, the new profile pages haven’t stirred a whole lot of controversy among Facebook’s loyal users — probably because there isn’t a whole lot to complain about [Ed. Note: Or we’ve just grown accustomed to them sucking].

They’re easy to navigate, easy to look at, and, unlike past site renovations, don’t require users to significantly change their browsing habits. But there are a few wrinkles in the new profile that certainly affect the way you interact with your friends, and more importantly, the way they see your personal information.

Let’s start with the most obvious change to the layout: photos. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained during his ’60 Minutes’ interview, photos are a major part of every Facebook user’s online existence — and that’s why the site decided to plaster them across the top of its new design. It’s certainly a great way to get someone’s attention, but it could also lead to embarrassment. For example, if someone tags a photo of you smoking salvia with Hannah Montana, that picture will now appear at the very top of your profile. Depending on your privacy settings, anyone from potential employers to grandparents would be able to see it — and they wouldn’t even have to spend much time searching

Luckily for you, it’s easy to curate your profile photo bar. Just hover your mouse over whichever lurid photo you’d like to hide from sight, and an ‘x’ icon will appear. If you click on it, the photo will no longer appear across the top. It won’t remove your name from the photo (only de-tagging can do that), but at least it won’t be the first thing people see when they check in on you. (If, on the other hand, you want to add a more creative touch to your profile, you can always do what this French artist did and creep everyone out.)

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Another subtle but important twist to the new profile is its wall. For the most part, the wall serves the same purpose that it always did: it gives a brief summary of your recent activity and new posts. But you may have noticed a small change in the way it reports what you post on other people’s Walls.

In the past, if you commented on a friend’s status, you’d see the following post on your own wall: “Person A commented on Person B’s status.” The new wall, however, provides slightly more detail. The post on your own wall will now read: “‘ is really amazing, you…’ on Person B’s wall.” In other words, it provides the first few words of whatever comment you actually make. As always, individual privacy settings determine exactly how much information your friends or strangers can see, but you still might want to think twice before dropping that f-bomb on someone else’s photo — because with the new Facebook profile, Grandma could easily see it.

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