Facebook gives user profiles a facelift

Facebook profiles have a new look, courtesy of the latest in a long series of redesigns on the widely used social network. The profile facelift — announced on Facebook’s Twitter feed and blog a few hours before founder Mark Zuckerberg was supposed to debut it on Sunday evening’s broadcast of 60 Minutes — reshuffles the information highlighted on your listing.

Instead of starting off with a long list of your latest status updates and posts by friends, your profile now leads off with a quick, bullet-point summary of your life: job, education, family, birthday, current city, hometown and so on. That’s followed by a gallery of the five most recent photos of you, either posted by you or by friends who tagged you in the shot.

(The screengrab above shows Zuckerberg’s profile.)

The new profile format’s “Info” section–the former home for much of this biographical data–attempts to liven up that text-heavy page with thumbnail images and icons representing the occupational, educational and other affiliations listed there. The Info page also incorporates the “About You” description that once ran below your profile photo.

This redesign also makes your profile’s photo gallery easier to browse: You can keep scrolling down to have additional photos appear instead of having to click through to overflow pages. Your friends list, in turn, can now be searched by such criteria as hometown and interests.

The new profile design isn’t an automatic upgrade for now, though. You have to opt into it at facebook.com/about/profile. But if my own Facebook news feed is any indication, people aren’t hesitating to make that switch; 22 friends had chosen it by 2 a.m.

(Disclosure: Post Co. chairman Donald E. Graham sits on Facebook’s board of directors — and he, too, has switched on the new profile in his own account.)

Many of these friends had also begun adding more details about themselves in response to the new profile page’s suggestions, which I can only imagine is exactly how management at this Palo Alto, Calif., company wants things to work.

What’s your review of the new profile? If you’ve opted in, have you started adding to your profile information — or has the increased visibility of your biography led you to take anything out?

10:40 a.m. My colleagues Melissa Bell–who also blogged about the new profile design–and Katie Rogers are going to try a little experiment in reader interaction. Tweet us your questions about this change, using the hashtag #wpchat, and we’ll answer them at 2 p.m. (We won’t turn down comments here, but I know that some of you have complained about being unable to log in to post one.)

2:21 p.m. And now, answers to your questions–posted here, since that’s where more of you asked:

“Does this publish any more information about me?” No, this just rearranges what people see first. Your existing privacy settings remain intact.

“How do I edit the set of photos Facebook automatically puts on my profile?” To remove one from that gallery, just click the small “x” that will appear in its top-right cursor if you leave the cursor there for a moment. This won’t delete the photo itself or untag you from it, but it does serve to clean up redundant or poorly-composed pictures.

“How does the new layout affect business pages?” It doesn’t. The public pages companies, schools, organizations and individuals can set up to promote themselves work the same as ever. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the new profile design migrate over to pages later on.

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