Recently Facebook has been working on finishing their roll out of the new Timeline profile to all of its users (including us.) While Facebook and its 3rd party apps may be less secure than they used to be, the new profile view is, frankly, beautiful. The two-column display shows your photos in all their (relatively sizable) glory, and highlights what Facebook thinks is major events in your life, making them more prominent on your page. Profiles are much more attractive this way, but they also feature a new capability that may leave some uneasy, myself included.
Facebook’s Timeline features just that, a timeline, on the right hand side of your profile. Friends can now click through by date to view your history. While this makes sense for Facebook, and is pretty cool in theory, it might be slightly less so in practice. When I heard about Timeline, I was really, really excited. I love innovation on the web, and this seemed like some real change for Facebook. Additionally, it looked gorgeous, and I like that. What I didn’t realize at first though, was that this doesn’t just enable what I’ve deemed advanced, super easy Facebook stalking. It actually almost forces it. And that’s the part I’m not a fan of.
Today, I am a different person than I was yesterday. More to the point though, today I am an extremely different person than I was 1, 2, 3 or more years ago. While looking at my photos, this isn’t much of a problem. But when you start to look at individual wall posts, comments, etc. that are all being taken completely out of context (no, I don’t think you can get feel for where I was in my life at the time by reading a few surrounding posts…) you could get a picture of me that is not at all who I am now, and possibly not who I wanted to be. We’ve talked before about how this can be a problem, particularly when applying to college or a new job.
That being said, Facebook doesn’t give you any particularly easy way to remedy this. You can go to your Activity View, and go post by post, deleting what you don’t want, but if you’re like me and have 5+ years on Facebook, this is just not an option. The good news is, there are ways to get this done satisfactorily, and I’m here to show you them. So read on for the beginner’s guide to cleaning up your Facebook Timeline.
Step 1: Privatize.
Step 1 is a good quick and dirty. It basically makes a ton of your stuff from the past that was set to Public and sets it to Friends Only. To do this, go to your Profile, then go to the top right corner and click the down-arrow, then click Privacy Settings. Near the bottom, you should see an option that says Limit the Audience for Past Posts. To the right of this option, click Manage Past Post Visibility. You’ll get a pop-up that warns you that if you proceed, anything you shared on your wall with Public or Friends of Friends will change to Friends. This is a great start, because it means that, at the very least, if you miss something in the following steps, you’ve got all your posts limited to be seen only by your friends. Click Limit Old Posts to complete the process.
Step 2: Exfoliate!
For Step 2, you’ll need to either own an Android phone, or know someone who does. (And really, who doesn’t know someone that uses and Android phone?) You’ll need to download an app called Exfoliate. Its free, and you can get it here, or search for it in the Google Play Store on the phone itself. Open Exfoliate and go in to the Settings. Here you can select exactly what you want to delete from Facebook, being as broad and specific as you’d like. (For example, I deleted everything older than 1 year on my wall, and everything older than 1 year that I posted to anyone else’s walls, or that I liked. I decided to leave comments that I made on photos.) Now, back out of settings and hit Login and Run. You’ll need to log in to Facebook, and once you do, Exfoliate will do its thing! Depending on how much stuff its going through and deleting this, can be very quick, or take hours. If you have the ability, I’d say start running it before you go to sleep, and when you wake up, you’ll be ready for Step 3!
Step 3: Double-check Exfoliate’s work!
For Step 3, you want to head over to your Profile page, and near the top, click Activity Log. This will show you everything you’ve done on Facebook that other people can see, with the ability to quickly change who can see each and every activity. This shouldn’t be too daunting a task, depending on how much you cleared out. Remember, this should all already be defaulted to Friends. So if you’re okay with everything you kept in your Exfoliate run being visible to Friends only, you’re all done! If you aren’t sure, just go down the list and check for anything you may want to hide, and change it up!
While Facebook made our pasts more visible to everyone with the new Timeline, it does look great. And with a little bit of work, we can clean up our Facebook’s in to something we’re proud of showing people. Do you know any other cool ways to clean up your Profile? Did we miss any easy steps? Let us know in the comments!