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An Easy Facebook Guide For New Users
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.
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
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. ReclaimPrivacy.org 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
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