Are You Ready for Facebook Timeline?

In the next couple of weeks, Facebook will unleash its most drastic redesign ever. We take a look at how you can help protect your privacy.

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In the next few weeks, you’re going to have to make a decision: switch over to the new Facebook Timeline or keep your current profile.

First, a primer on Timeline. Think of it as a virtual This is Your Life, where all of the digital skeletons in your closet are paraded out in front of you. In terms of indulging in backlit nostalgia, it’s wonderful fun; photos of forgotten parties and wall posts from old exes all make for a fascinating walk down memory lane.

(WATCH: The New Facebook Interface in Two Minutes)

The problem, however, is that you’re not taking that walk alone. Everyone from your new boss to your grandmother can now peruse a neatly laid-out record of your past.

Now, let me make this clear; I like Facebook Timeline, or at least I like its potential. Sure, the current beta version (available now through a labyrinthine sign-up process) sometimes crawls along, especially when expanding a year’s worth of content or loading the Maps feature, but overall it has an attractive layout and makes visiting a friend’s profile a far more engaging experience than it was before.

The bad news is that Timeline is going to freak a lot of people out. A Facebook spokesperson assured me that it will be opt-in, meaning you won’t just wake up one day and find your profile transformed.

For those who do make the switch, beware: Timeline is prime Facebook stalker material.

(MORE: Yep, Microsoft’s Building a Secret Social Network, Called ‘Socl’)

In the olden days of several weeks ago, my life was simple. I created a photo album, people commented on it, and off it went to the recesses of my account, only to be found by those who really wanted to dig for it.

Post-Timeline, profiles will become all-you-can-view buffets for casual voyeurs. Load someone’s Timeline and you’ll see months of status updates, photos and more displayed chronologically. Expand the collapsed years below and you’ll be able to trace someone’s history on Facebook all the way down to his or her birth.

First word of advice: Get used to clicking “Hide from Timeline.” You access it through the “Edit or Remove” pencil icon that pops up whenever you hover your mouse over the top right corner of any post.

My first hour on Facebook Timeline was spent doing just that. The profane status updates following the loss of my beloved Lakers to the hated Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals? Magically gone! The crude jokes written on my wall by friends right after we all graduated college? Nowhere to be seen, like Dane Cook’s career!

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