Facebook unveiled a new version of its user profiles today — I wouldn’t call it a dramatic overhaul, but there were a few substantial changes that should make the profile a better introduction to your online identity.
My favorite new element is a box offering a quick overview at the top of each profile. Before the change, if you looked up “Anthony Ha” on Facebook (or at least this particular Anthony Ha), the first thing you would see is my Wall, which is covered with new photos, messages from friends, and random other activity. It’s not really a great introduction if you’re wondering who I am.
Now you can see that I’m the assistant editor at VentureBeat, that I studied at Stanford University, that I live in San Francisco, and more. You can also see the newest photos that I’ve been tagged in. All of this information was in Facebook already, but now the site is bringing it together in one place to highlight it. Once you get an idea of who I am and what I look like, you can scroll down and see the recent activity that you would have seen before.
There are other new ways for users to share information about themselves. You can group your favorite friends into “Featured Friends” lists, which seems like a nice way to organize and distinguish important connections from the random “friend” you met once. Other new information fields include projects that you worked on at a job and favorite sports teams.
Altogether, it should make Facebook profiles a little more engaging and interesting. It should also help the company gather additional information about you, which it could use to deliver more personalized content and advertising.
The company is also unveiling the features in a slightly unusual way, with an appearance by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on the news show 60 Minutes. That should give Zuckerberg a chance to preemptively respond to the complaints that inevitably arise whenever Facebook makes a change — and it’s another sign that Facebook is interested in its more mature users, since 60 Minutes has one of the oldest audiences around.
Facebook says it’s rolling the new profiles out gradually, with the goal of transferring all users by the beginning of next year. You can read more about it in this blog post and activate your new profile here.