SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses as he delivers a keynote address during the Facebook f8 conference on September 22, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the conference introducing a Timeline feature to the popular social network. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Facebook made a few changes this week to the social network, so we've compiled this list of the five things you really need to know.
5. The New Changes are Staying
Hate the changes? Facebook has already said, and we're paraphrasing, "Too bad." Facebook won't go back to the old layout, so users will have to get used to the new one or move elsewhere -- like Google+. Unfortunately, with only 25 million users, it's unlikely all your friends on Facebook will migrate there. Sounds good in an angry status update, though.
4. The Ticker
The real-time ticker has been in development for months and finally launched Thursday as kind of a Facebook within Facebook. It streams real-time updates, but unfortunately, if you blink you may miss them. Supposedly Facebook is placing the "boring" posts here and with their cool, new algorithm give you the "good" status updates and information -- kind of separating the wheat from the chaff. The only problem is, aren't users better at figuring that out than Facebook?
The only way to change this is by going into each post by a different person and changing settings under "Subscribe" to "All Updates" from "Most Updates." It doesn't change the layout, but it stops Facebook from hiding posts from people you want to know about.
3. Open Graph
Facebook's new "Open Graph" is an initiative that allows third-party developers to make social applications tightly woven into the Facebook system, usually by using user information to make it more relevant. Remember earlier this year when Facebook got into trouble for giving out all your information to third-party developers? It hedged and said it would roll out the changes later. Well, now it's later and Facebook provides that information to all its developers -- with your permission, of course, otherwise you can't play The Sims Social, Words With Friends or CityVille. Now you will know everything your Facebook friend does on Facebook, and vice versa, including what music s/he listens to, what s/he reads or does on an app will be stored permanently and made accessible on an enhanced user profile page. And that enhanced user page will now be a postcard biography, which brings us to . . .
Labeled both brilliant and creepy, the new feature creates a timeline of a user's life -- literally from birth (you add baby photos) to present day. As we said in the "Open Graph" section, everything is now stored on Facebook and can be a biography called "Timeline" which aggregates old photos, status updates and video -- a lot of photos and video. Ben Werdmuller writes that it's the first social network profile that gives users a "contextual identity," or one that sees the real you. That means it's better than a passport, a driver's license or a resume -- this is actually who you are. And you can bet it's going to be looked at by everyone. The problem is that many of these things happen and are forgotten, much like old photos in a shoebox -- but not on Facebook Timeline, where it's published and meant to stay there for eternity unless you delete the items. We agree with Werdmuller it's both brilliant and creepy.
1. Music, Video and Content Partnerships
You have probably heard the most about this part of the list, with Facebook announcing its partnerships with music services, video-streaming service Netflix and the Washington Post. Previously we reported about Facebook's deals with music services like Spotify, and Netflix was everything but a partner, so neither were surprises. The Washington Post Social Reader, however, is a new venture and could be the start of other news outlets on the social network. Everything read, listened to or watched (except Netflix or Hulu.com, which has laws against it) will be reported live on Facebook's new ticker and users can click the update and read, listen or watch exactly what that friend experienced. It's something founder Mark Zuckerberg called "frictionless" sharing -- or you don't even have any contact with a person, you just shadow their actions on Facebook. So far, though, no prices have been mentioned about the services.
It's a lot to take in right now, but the changes are expected to roll out soon. And remember, if it is too much for you, there's always Google+.