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How to edit your Facebook Timeline before making it public

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Keep those embarrassing photos and status updates from crossing your stream

You've been hearing a lot about it both from us here at Tecca and practically every other tech news site on the internet — it's the new Facebook profile feature called Timeline, and today it begins its slow but steady rollout to the masses. The Timeline is essentially the evolution of what used to be your profile. If you've come to love your traditional Facebook home page, you may be a bit miffed to learn that it is in the process of being slowly eradicated.

The social network is gradually replacing the profile page format of every one of its hundreds of millions of users with the new Timeline. You can find out if your account has been converted simply by clicking on your name on the very top bar of your Facebook account. The new feature will showcase a plethora of your activity going all the way back to your very first Facebook post — meaning your entire social network identity needs to be spotless.

So what can you do about those pesky college party pics that you've been tagged in (or maybe even posted yourself)? Or how about those check-ins that you might not want a future employer to know about? Here's how to clean up your Timeline before you publish it, so the whole world will only see what you want it to see.

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Ready or not, here comes the Timeline

Find out what you've got
It will take time, but thankfully Facebook's records only go back a few years, even for the earliest users. The first thing you'll need to do to clean up your Timeline is review what's already in there. Depending how active you've been and how long you've been on the social network, this may take a while. But it's better to do it now than do damage control after someone else finds out about your dubious activities, right?

There are several ways to review your Timeline. You can simply scroll down and go backwards in time, reviewing each item displayed. However, this will not show everything that is available to visitors to your profile. You'll need to click on each year — and in some cases, each month — in order to get the full accounting of all the activities and items on your Timeline. Once you've drilled down and identified the items you want to remove, it's as easy as pie. It's just a lot more tedious (yes, even if you're making the pie from scratch).

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Removing Timeline items is easy

Out with the old, in with the new
Think of this process as a digital version of spring cleaning. You'll finally get a chance to go back through all of your stuff on Facebook, even the things you've forgotten about, and remove content that makes you seem silly or immature or is otherwise embarrassing in some way.

Let's take the example of a photograph. Once you come to the photograph in question, you'll see an option below the photo on the right-hand side to remove it from your Timeline. See, we told you it was easy!

It's just as easy to get rid of check-ins and other status updates that you prefer others not stumble upon. With events, locate what looks like a pencil near the top right of the status update. Click on that (it's Facebook's version of an edit icon), and you'll be able to remove the status update from your Timeline. You can also determine if you want an app to continue posting stuff to your timeline or remove its publishing privileges altogether.

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You can keep new things from hitting your Timeline

Timeline is like a time machine
In some ways, the new Timeline feature is like a time machine. You'll get to go back and become all nostalgic over things you posted years ago (if you've been on Facebook since the college days). You'll get the grand picture of just how much you post each day. You might even run into some old friends you've forgotten all about (again).

But the most beautiful part of the process is that the Timeline can be edited. Without this feature, we're sure Timeline would cause many a headache in the business world. We're not even sure we could survive a Timeline-induced trip down memory lane without being able to edit the past.

While you're at it, this is probably a good time to review Facebook's privacy settings and decide who exactly you want to be able to view your Timeline. After that, it should all be peaches and cream. [Editor's note: Less Pollyanna-esque types are welcome to make comparison to 1984's "memory holes," where information deemed unfit for the public good is summarily burned.]

Finally, remember that just because it's not on Facebook, that doesn't mean it never happened. Just remember that what you post tomorrow can end up on your Timeline as well.

This article was written by Michael Arcand and originally appeared on Tecca

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