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An Easy Facebook Guide For New Users

Updated on October 8, 2014

What are Friends, Groups, Networks, and all that other stuff on Facebook?

So you're finally on Facebook! Now what? What's the difference between a Group, a Network, and a Fan Page? What's an Application? What does it mean when you write on someone's Wall?

This guide will explain Facebook so that new users can quickly come up to speed and start enjoying Facebook instead of fighting with it. Facebook is a great way to find lost friends, make new ones, and connect with people who share similar interests. Read the quick guide below, and then go have some fun!

First Things First

People, Friends, Networks, Groups, and Pages

You must understand these before you start!

If you don't want to get confused, you need to know the building blocks of Facebook. The next four sections will explain each of these in a way that you can understand.


Also known as Human Beings

Facebook is all about people. People are the basic building block of Facebook. Every person (user) has a Profile page and a Home page. The Home page is where you can see what all of your friends are doing (also known as a "feed" or "stream" as the activity constantly streams by whether your paying attention or not). The Profile page is where your friends can see what you are doing.

You can tell people what you are doing by typing something in the box that asks "What's on your mind?" and then clicking Share. This will post what you typed on your Profile Page, and will also put it on your Friends' Home Pages. You can also share photos, videos, web pages, and other items by attaching them.


Everybody has friends - Facebook helps you find them!

Friends in Facebook are People that you know. You can invite other people to be your friend by sending a Friend Request. People can send you a request to be their friend. Your friends can also suggest friends to you.

It is safe to ignore a friend request or a friend suggestion if you want. Just don't ignore a friend request from someone you see everyday because they may keep asking why you haven't accepted their friend request.

If you no longer want to keep someone as a friend you can "unfriend" them by removing them from your friend list. This is usually safe to do. The person does not get any notification that you unfriended them - they just stop seeing your updated on their Home Page and you stop seeing theirs.


Where do you live? Where do you work? Where did you go to school?

People join networks based on where they live, where they work, and where they go/went to school. Joining networks helps Facebook to find friends for you. Facebook will look at the networks you joined, and it will then find people in the same networks with some of the same friends and suggest them to you as possible friends.

Networks also play a role in privacy settings (please read the Privacy section below). You should set your privacy settings so that people who are neither friends nor in your network cannot see any personal information. Your friends can typically see all of your information. Your networks can typically see some of your information. Other people can typically only see your name, profile picture, and a list of who your friends are.


Communities, Interest Groups, Clubs, Associations, Affiliations, Cliques, etc.

A Group is just a collection of people with a common interest.

Anyone can create a Group. Groups can be open so that anyone can join, or closed so that only invited friends can join.

Groups have their own pages on Facebook. Group pages typically have a wall where people can post updates to the rest of the group, a photo sharing area, a video sharing area, and a Discussion board.

When your friends post things on group pages, that activity will show up on your Home Page. When you post things on group pages, that activity will show up on your friends' Home Pages. A group administrator can send an update out to everyone in the group.


Businesses, Restaurants, Bands, Organizations

A Page (also called a fan page) is intended for an entity that is not a person. Pages are typically used by companies, businesses, musical bands, or other organizations that have customers, clients, or patrons. People on Facebook can become Fans of Pages.

Business and Organizations use Pages to share information and updates with their fans. Some Pages may even feature a marketplace where people can purchase products. Pages are used to build a sense of community among customers and patrons of a business or organization.

When you post something on a fan page, that activity will show up on your friends' Home Pages. When your friends post something on a fan page, that activity will show up on your Home Page.

Getting Started

Now that you know how it works, it's time to start networking!

1. First, find friends

Use Facebook to find friends from your email address book, or to search for specific people. Just click on Friends at the top of the page. Based on the friends you add, and based on your groups and networks, Facebook will also suggest friends to you. If you want to connect, then invite them! If not, then ignore the suggestion. This is a great way to reconnect with lost friends and classmates!

2. Next, keep up to date with your friends

Log in and check out your Facebook Home page often. This shows you your Friends' News Feed. Every time a friend does something on Facebook, it shows up in your news feed.

There are two columns. The main column is the main feed. This one can move pretty fast if you have a lot of friends. Newer items appear at the top and older items drop off the bottom. If you don't check frequently enough, you'll miss what's going on.

The smaller column on the right shows you if you've received any invitations or notifications, suggests more friends, and shows highlights of what your friends have been doing. Things tend to hang around on this column a little longer.

When you do things on Facebook, your activities show up on your friends' home pages.

3. Take control of your feed

Sometimes the feeds can get out of control. If you don't particularly care about every time somebody does something in Mafia Wars for instance, you can tell Facebook to hide those items. Hover your mouse over the item and you'll see a Hide option appear in the top right corner of that item. Click the down arrow and you will have two options. The first hides all further items from that friend. The second hides all further items from that activity.

Another option is to use the filters on the top left of the screen. By default, it is set to News Feed, which shows all activities. You can select certain types of feed items, such as Links, or Polls and Facebook will show only those. Or you can select Status Updates (what people are usually most interested in anyway) and Facebook will hide all of the other activities and only show your friends' status updates.

4. Take control of your profile

Your profile keeps a feed of all of your activities and also shows relevant information about you. Every now and then, click on the Profile link at the top of the page. What you see on your profile page is pretty much what all your friends see when they look at your profile page.

If there are any items in your feed that you no longer want to be there (for example, maybe you took a quiz and don't like the result), you can hover the mouse over that item and then click Remove. Some of your friends may still have caught the item in their feeds when it happened, but removing it will make sure it's not a semi-permanent fixture on your profile and will make sure that it doesn't show up on any other feeds in the future.


Have some fun!

One of the most useful features of Facebook is the Comment feature. As items show up in your news feed, go ahead and comment on them! When your friends post photos, comment on them! Commenting is a way of having spontaneous online conversations. Just be aware that comments are visible to all of your friends and to all of the friends of the person whose item you commented on.

The best way to find fun stuff to do on Facebook is to see what your Friends are doing. If they take a quiz that you like, just click on the quiz name in your news feed and you can take it too! If they post some pictures, go ahead and take a look! If they are playing a game you like, go ahead and play as well. Have fun!

Other Fun Stuff - Applications

This is where everybody spends (wastes?) their time on Facebook

There are hundreds and hundreds of applications on Facebook. Some of the most popular applications include Quizzes, SuperWall, Mafia Wars, and Gifts.

Many applications are games that you can play on Facebook. Others are quizzes that you can take and share with your friends. Gift applications let you send virtual items to your friends.

Most applications have an underlying purpose of marketing some item or service. Some applications will harvest your email address and start sending you spam.

Use whichever applications your are interested in. Most applications by default will post updates of your activity on your friends' home pages. Your friends would probably appreciate if you modified you application settings to not do this (see the Privacy section below).

If someone sends you an application invitation, or a gift, or a quiz and you're not interested, simply click Ignore. No harm will come to you, no notification will be sent to your friend, and feelings will typically not be hurt.

Inviting your friends

Many applications (especially quizzes) won't show you the results until after they prompt you to invite a bunch of your friends. There is no need to invite anyone! Just find the Skip button and it will take you to your results.

Once you have your results, you should be given the option to Publish them or not. If you don't get that option, then read the Privacy settings information below to force applications to give you that option.

Privacy, Malware, and Spam

Know what you are sharing and with whom

Facebook Privacy

People don't often pay attention to privacy on Facebook, but they should.

There are two reasons. First, you need to make sure you know who has access to view your information. Second, you need to publish only the activities you want your friends to see.

By default, Facebook shares too much information. Many people may not want others to know their exact birthdate, so leave out the year. Some may not want people to know their phone number, so either don't provide it or make sure it is only shared with your friends.

Facebook's privacy features are always changing, so to try to keep up with the changes, I've listed links below to the most up to date privacy information.

One link is important enough that I need to highlight it here as well. has an outstanding free tool that helps you find out where your privacy settings could be better. Just add their bookmark, and then click the bookmark when you are on your Facebook privacy settings page. Their tool will show exactly how private your Facebook information is.

Facebook Malware and Spam

With over 450 Million users as of early 2010, if Facebook were a country it would be the third most populous in the world - beating out the United States of America! No wonder it is increasingly becoming a target for spammers, viruses, trojans, and other malware. So how do you know which links are safe and which aren't?

Fortunately, there are now free applications that will help protect you from the bad stuff. I recommend Defensio. Defensio is completely free, and it will protect your profile from spam, and stop people from posting infected links on your wall or in your feed. Additionally, you can go to their website and use Defensio to protect your blog and other web platforms. Please note, these are not affiliate links. I receive no compensation whatsoever for promoting Defensio - I just know that it's a great product that can help keep you safe.

Another free product that I would highly recommend is OpenDNS. With just a few easy settings on your PC or your wireless router, you can route your web traffic through OpenDNS. OpenDNS will then screen the links you are clicking on and stop you from visiting phishing, virus, and malware sites. Additionally, you can select web filtering categories with one click of the mouse to protect your family from sites that contain content which you may find objectionable. Again, these are not affiliate links. I get no compensation for promoting OpenDNS.

I use both of these free products to protect myself and my family, and for your online safety I hope you consider using them too.

Amazon Books on Facebook - Need more information? Check out these books

Please share your feedback, comments and questions. I welcome anything that will help other readers use facebook, or that will help me improve the content above.


Comments and Feedback - Got a suggestion? Question? Comment?

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    • profile image

      eric woodhouse 3 years ago

      I have sent messages and I feel that I have sent them to myself, my bro in law said that a message I sent was on my time line, I'm still non the wiser on how to send and receive messages.---- Eric

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      How do I put stuff from a web site on to my Facebook page?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Why don't 'likes' from business log onto your page tally???????

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I can't find directions for canceling my face book account. Help!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm fairly new to Facebook but wish to take a holiday for 2 months to decide whethr to carry on. Once or twice a problem has arisen when news has travelled so fast that other non-users have been annoyed that they have been beaten to it. Please advise.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 5 years ago

      Love this lens!

    • grahamcox lm profile image

      grahamcox lm 5 years ago

      This is very helpful and easy to understand! Will recommend this to new users :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Is there any way to separate "Family" from "Friends"? I want my family to get my posts, but it feels wrong to call them just "Friends.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What does it mean when someone has poked me?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I had a friend request and didn't accept it. It just stayed there as I didn't delete it. It has been there for 12 months or more. Now I have just got another friend request again from the same person. Is this Facebook sending me the request again as a reminder or is the person asking me to be friends? Thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I don't want my location identified when I post, how do I deactivate this?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      how do we get invisible on the chat option even if we are online? please explain with complete steps

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      why my friend can't suggest me friends ?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How do you download photos from photos app?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      There are so many advertisements on the bottom of this site. How can I remove future friendly so it does not lurk there just waiting for me to run my curcer across it accidentally so it can take over the screen and block out your valuable instructions? Your site has lots of great information, thanks

    • profile image

      thomanna 5 years ago

      Nice starter guide. Keep up the good work!

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 6 years ago

      Nice Lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Anyone out there with suggestions??

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Trying to download a video sent by my sister to my Mother originally. Mom emailed the video to me and am having no luck. I saved it at the top tool bar under favorites, but can't find it on downloads/desktop/pictures etc. HELP!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thanks for all the great info. I have been trying to figure out how to hide or remove the FB section on our business page where it shows who likes our pages. I don't mind the number of "likes," we are concerned that our clients might be able to see who else uses our services. Some are either located in the same area or direct competitors. However I am not able to figure this out for business or fan pages, only personal pages. There is a lot of info/tools on your site that we will be utilizing, however that is the one detail that I am not able to find. I also have not found that info searching the Facebook help center. Is this something that can be done easily? Is there a post on your website that could help? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 6 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      A really good basic guide that's easy to understand. It's not my area, but I'm blessing it anyway- thanks!

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 6 years ago

      Thank you! Thank you! Thank You! I just got on FB and have been so lost. This is so clear and informative.

    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 6 years ago from Michigan

      Very informative lens. I'm fairly new to Facebook but have found some of the games to be lots of fun. Currently I play Fish Wrangler with several of my nieces and nephews.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      My facebook application was working fine a couple of weeks ago and now I can see all of the activity but I can't send any messages or post anything. Is that a facebook problem or

      could it be my internet connection?

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I did not block my friend but somehow he got blocked and now I can,t get gifts from him but he is still getting gifts from me. when I went under privacy settings his name is there and beside it unblock but when I click on it does nothing. Please help me to solve this and start getting gifts back from him!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Fan pages aren't typically used for but are SPECIFICALLY for business use. That's where people go wrong and it is causing so much spam by children.

      I have on numerous occasions tried to get my friends to join their college networks even providing them with links to their alumni pages to in SOME cases even get a FREE alum email so they can join their network. They just don't do it. Either too lazy, stupid, or are lying about their education. If FB was still closed off to these morons, they wouldn't be on there, not knowing the whole time that they could be by using an alum email.

      Same for privacy. They assumed their profiles were secure, but they were really open for everyone to see their wall and photos. ALL of them did clamp down once I made it known to them. Go figure that they care about privacy but not network status. You'd think if someone went to Harvard, they'd want to display that officially. And that they might question their buddies, "hey, how'd you get that school/work network statusy thing on your profile?".

    • efarmiga profile image

      efarmiga 7 years ago

      @MrWidemouth: Thanks for the positive comments. I'm glad you liked the lens!

    • MrWidemouth profile image

      MrWidemouth 8 years ago

      Hey great job. love your clean and concise design. Looking forward to seeing more of your work.

    • momto4 lm profile image

      momto4 lm 8 years ago

      I just started using Facebook and this lens is going to be very helpful. Thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Thanks for the useful guide!