Understanding Facebook Information Flow
As a social networking site, Facebook acts much like a broadcasting service, sharing news about its members wherever they are. However, rather than tuning in to see general news about everyone on the site or stories selected entirely by Facebook, your news is narrowed down to just the people you know—your friends, family, coworkers, or colleagues. The news that is shared, whether it's status updates, photos, or the latest group someone joined, is referred to as stories on Facebook. This news is also called feed stories, stream, or news feed stories. The information that appears on the Home page is a constant stream of stories about the activities and pursuits of your friends. The official name for this is news feeds, so that's what we'll call it, too. The stories that appear on your profile are referred to as mini-feeds because they're all about you.
For example, anytime you post a status update on your Wall, it's a story on your mini-feed—information dedicated to you. When your friend shares a photo, for example, it appears on his Wall as a mini-feed about him. Out on the Home page, both stories may appear listed as news feed stories where other friends you both know can see.
What exactly constitutes as news on Facebook, you may wonder? Anything you do on the site is considered a story. If you join a group, for example, or share a link, it appears as part of your mini-feed, and might even potentially be listed in the main news feed. If you don't want to share all your Facebook activities, you can turn off some of this through your privacy settings. (See Lesson 5, "Guarding Your Privacy," to learn more.)
Another part of this ongoing stream of broadcasting is a Facebook feature called notifications. Notifications are messages from Facebook telling you about something that happened on Facebook involving you somehow, such as being tagged (pointed out) in a photo or if someone wrote on your Wall. Typically, these notifications are emailed to you or sent via your mobile connection. On Facebook, they appear on the Notifications pop-up list. Unlike mini-feeds that are generated by you, or news feeds that detail the activities of others, notifications involve you indirectly.
Let's get down to the nitty-gritty details of how to manage your mini-feeds, news feeds, and notifications.