Facebook Overhauls Profile Page

Facebook on Sunday announced a revamped profile page with new features aimed at displaying user information more clearly and making profiles easier to update. The changes include a new synopsis of each person that will appear at the top of the page, featuring basic background details on where someone is from and where they went to school and work.

A user's latest photos will also appear prominently, complying with existing privacy settings so people only see pictures they have permission to view. Previously, photos were accessible only through a link on the profile page.

People will also be able to highlight a limited number of friends and family members on the profile page. The redesign also provides new ways for users to share information about their interests and activities. "You can list the projects you worked on at your job, classes you took in school, your favorite musicians and sports teams, and more," stated a Facebook blog post about the profile page update. Interests and projects are now also accompanied by images.

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Furthermore, a new "infinite scroll" feature promises to make it faster and easier to browse all a user's photos rather than having to click a link to see "more" photos. On top of that, the Friends page lets people search now by name, hometown, school or other attributes to find someone.

Facebook said it plans to roll out the profile changes to all members by early next year. Charlene Li, founder of digital consulting firm Altimeter, called the profile page refresh "long overdue" in a blog post Sunday, but predicted it would provoke a backlash as many other Facebook redesigns and new initiatives previously have.

"I do expect there to be significant push back from Facebook members, both because of the interface changes as well as the new social dynamics that will need to be gotten used to. And of course, privacy will always remain a valid and pressing concern," she wrote.

Li noted that while Facebook has focused on adding things associated with a person such as Pages of their fans or recent "Likes," the profile page has remained static and rarely updated or touched. "And that's a problem when the advertising that Facebook offers is keyed off the explicit information included in a person's profile," she noted.

By encouraging people to update their profiles more often and making them more reflective of their interests and relationships, Facebook is obviously trying to address that problem. Whether that effort leads to a new round of privacy issues for Facebook remains to be seen.

The increased emphasis on workplace-related information in the new profile page, such as updates by colleagues, chats, and Likes, could be among the most controversial changes. "You can opt out of having these features show up in your profile, but it will have to be a setting that you control," wrote Li.

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