Facebook Timeline: Redesign adds music, movies to social network

September 22, 2011

Facebook unveiled a major redesign Thursday that aims to turn the social network into the Internet’s central platform, allowing people to share music, news and movies with their friends online.

Americans already spend far more time on Facebook — 53 billion minutes in May alone — than any other Web site, according to Nielsen. The announcement by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg aims to enhance that ability to keep users captive.

Now, users can see what their friends are listening to, watching or reading, and then consume the same media without leaving the site.

That content will be prominently displayed on a splashy new profile page called “Timeline,” which pulls together all of the media into a single place on the Web.

“We think it’s an important next step to help tell the story of your life,” Zuckerberg said during a keynote speech reminiscent of Apple’s slickly produced presentations.

The Timeline has three main components — a user’s stories, apps and a new way to express a person’s identity. Pictures and videos are featured prominently, making profiles more visually focused, and users can sort through information by date, type of media and location.

Some of the new apps were available immediately. The Timeline layout has started its beta test and will be available to everyone in the coming weeks.

Facebook is also trying to change how people get news. Through partnerships with news outlets such as The Washington Post and The Daily, users will be able to see what their friends are reading and read those stories on the social network.

Donald E. Graham, chairman of The Post Co., attended the conference and is a member of Facebook’s board.

Zuckerberg said the ability to share media would apply to music, through partnerships with Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio and companies such as Spotify, and video, through streaming sites such as Netflix and Hulu.

Facebook has already taken a similar approach to games, but it is unclear whether the model will be successful with other media, analysts said.

Some users may not want to share what they are listening to or reading, privacy advocates said.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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