Facebook has expanded the “recent activity” box on users’ Timelines and added a new “recently used apps” box to give more prominence to Open Graph applications.
The changes make stories more visual and as a result could help users discover new applications and pages through their friends. However, users have limited control over how these boxes display on their profiles, and Facebook should be mindful of how it implements features like this.
User Timelines include boxes for individual applications like Pinterest or Foursquare, as well as boxes for categories like music, games, video and news. Previously, Timeline included a small section for “most recent activity” that displayed users’ actions on Facebook and Open Graph apps along with small icons. Now that box has more prominence and includes larger thumbnails next to stories. (See comparison images below.)
There’s also an additional box called “apps” that clearly identifies what a user has interacted with lately. This could lead friends to try new apps and remind users to return to games and apps they’ve used before.
The new boxes take up additional space on the right-hand side of users’ Timelines, pushing down posts they’ve actively created — i.e., posting a link, sharing a photo or making a status update — and posts their friends have shared with them. Users can click an X in the top right corner of the apps box to hide the module, but it’s unclear whether it will reappear at some point after a user tries new apps.
Users can hide stories from the recent activity box, but after refreshing the page, older stories populate that space. There is not a way to remove the boxes for games, videos, news or music, unless a user makes all their app activity visible only to themselves and not others. However, if apps are explicit about the type of activity they will share, users will only add the apps they want to display on Timeline and won’t consider these stories to be spam.