Facebook focuses on media sharing and adds timeline

Spotify on Facebook Spotify is one of the companies to take advantage of Facebook's enthusiasm for media sharing

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Facebook has outlined plans to encourage users to share more of the media they consume - including music and movies - with friends.

Its founder Mark Zuckerberg also unveiled a dramatic redesign to the website, replacing user profiles with an audio visual timeline of their life.

The updates were revealed at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference.

A wave of new features in recent weeks have been welcomed by some users and caused annoyance to many others.

Facebook's latest changes point to a desire to keep users engaged through new features, in the midst of rapid innovation from social networking rivals.

The site's application platform has been redesigned to allow users to share what they are consuming on streaming music services such as Spotify, and the movie rental site Netflix.

Start Quote

Knowing you helped a friend discover something new and they liked your taste in music, and that you now have that in common, is awesome”

End Quote Mark Zuckerberg Facebook founder

News sites, including the Guardian and Independent newspapers, are also included in the initial roll out.

Depending on privacy settings, users will be able to see what friends are doing - for example, playing a song - then listen-in themselves.

Mr Zuckerberg said he wanted to create, what he called, "real time serendipity".

"Being able to click on someone's music is a great experience, but knowing you helped a friend discover something new and they liked your taste in music, and that you now have that in common is awesome," he added.

Facebook said that users would only be able to do as much on the site as its media partners allowed in each country, so free music sharing through streaming apps would only work where that service was already available outside Facebook.

New look

Alongside the deeper integration of media content, the restyling of Facebook's profile pages is also likely to prove a hot topic among users.

Rory Cellan-Jones examines how Facebook's announcement affects the social networking war

The most radical departure so far from the site's well known profile format will doubtless prove contentious with its sometimes conservative members.

Identities will now be defined through a densely packed vertical timeline of major life events, made up of photos, videos and other items. The level of detail diminishes the further down a reader scrolls.

Profile pages had previously been limited to basic information along with a stream of every single item posted by a user.

The latest offering is significantly different to those of Facebook's biggest social networking rivals, Google+ and Twitter, and more closely resembles the once-popular site Myspace.

"Facebook is positioning itself as not just your social graph online, but your life online," Forrester Research analyst Sean Corcoran told the Associated Press.

Start Quote

Don't be surprised if Facebook is even more woven into its users' lives by the end of this year, and an even more powerful player in the media.”

End Quote

"These changes not only help trump rival Google but will open up new opportunities," he said. "But concerns around privacy and immaturity in how to do these things effectively will make it a slow go."

Facebook stressed that all of its new offerings could be controlled by members using its recently simplified privacy controls.

In particular, it stressed that timeline items could be modified within the new "activity log", allowing users to limit who can view certain events from their past.

The updates are expected to start appearing on users' computers in coming weeks.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    When you see electronic roadsigns that say "honk if you think the new FB changes suck", it is irrelevant whether we like the changes or not. The point is we are not likely to give it up. We need it. We are all on Facebook.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Stop complaining about hiding features and privacy.Facebook is a SOCIAL media site, you cant be social and hide the things about your self that make you who you are.
    The amount of people complaining about facebook on a status update is just hilarious!
    Facebook wont die out because of G+ its to engrained in society.embrace the chance for a better site or if you dont like the site leave. Please!

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    The ticker, the timeline and spotify integration are great. Yes the ticker might be stalkerish but it is by far the best tool to see what your friends are doing... after all its a SOCIAL network. I like any changes facebook has made, if it didnt make changes id have left there because of the staleness and so would have everyone else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    With the recent changes and no warnings, I have left Facebook and now that a few people I know are on G+ I think I'll be staying on that from now on.

    It's actually quite nice having a nice peaceful social network where you feel in control of things. Facebook, for me, has massively shot itself in the feet of late. Like the new BBC homepage it's a cluttered mess of ill thought out fancy tech demos!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    In recent weeks Facebook have been the best possible advert for Google+. First they change the chat system so it's not as easy to see which friends are online, then then changed the photo system so it's slower to load and doesn't work too well on a mobile, and now they've changed the main page so I have to click to see the latest posts, why on earth would I not want to see them when I log in?


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