Facebook's Timeline Launches

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Facebook today posted that users now officially can upgrade their profiles to its Facebook Timeline by heading here. Timeline, as Mark Zuckerberg described in September, is Facebook’s way of helping uses curate the stories of their lives, calling out the most meaningful events and recent highlights. During the F8 Developers’ Conference, he said that Facebook had “rethought from the ground up the heart of the Facebook experience.”

The Open Graph protocol, based on RDFa, provides power to the experience, enabling applications to focus on filling out user Timelines with lightweight activities, and on discovering new things through friends in what Zuckerberg at the time called a frictionless experience. As an example, he noted the debut of the Open Graph Spotify music app that adds to a user’s Timeline the songs she listens to, radio stations, and albums.

Other Open Graph app launch partners announced at the event in the fall were The Daily, Dailymotion, Earbits, The Guardian, Hulu, iHeartRadio, The Independent, Izlesene, Jelli, My Video, Netflix, Rdio, Slacker, Songza, The Washington Post, and Yahoo. Others, such as The Huffington Post, joined later. In late November, Facebook said that the publishers building social news apps to help users see what their friends or reading or to view past top articles are seeing good early results.

It cited, for example, that Yahoo! News! built a deep Open Graph integration into its site that, as of that date, was turned on by more than ten million people, with Yahoo! News seeing a 600 percent increase in traffic coming from Facebook.

Its advice to partners included that they create compelling objects by specifying Open Graph tags for all articles and that they keep people engaged when no social content is available by surfacing personalized recommendations based on users’ interests on Facebook. There has been some criticism of the frictionless news-sharing apps, though, such as old (sometimes very old) stories making their way to the top of the socially shared lists.

Earlier this month the company also posted information on how developers can internationalize Open Graph apps. More than 75 percent of Facebook users, it said, are outside the U.S., making features such as Open Grpah Object Translation important.

Users upgrading to Timeline will have seven days to review what appears there, for stories they may want to feature or old stuff they may want to remove or hide. (Good luck to everyone out there who posts to Facebook nearly as often as they take a breath!) By the way, when you head over to Facebook’s post about the launch, take some time to review comments about it – there’s no holding back by those who are not happy with the change.


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