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Getting Started with Facebook

When you navigate your browser to Facebook at http://www.facebook.com, you see the page shown in Figure 1.1.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1 The Facebook start-up screen.

This page looks a little less than welcoming. To actually enter Facebook, sign up now. Enter your email address and a password in the boxes on the right, as well as your birthday. Click the Sign Up button to complete the sign-up process. Among that information is data that will appear on your profile—your geographic region and so on. (You'll see how to edit your profile later.)

After your username (your email address) and password are set, you can enter them on the left in the www.facebook.com page, as shown in Figure 1.1. Click the "Remember me" check box to make Facebook automatically log you in every time you return.

After you've completed the sign-in process, you see the page shown in Figure 1.2, asking what you want to do next. This is your Facebook home page. It's always accessible by clicking the word Facebook in the upper left while you're logged in. (Note that the home page may have changed by the time you read this; Facebook is always tinkering with its appearance.)

Figure 1.2

Figure 1.2 The Facebook home page.

Facebook offers the following items on the home page:

  • Find Friends: Finding your friends makes your Facebook experience better. You can search for classmates or coworkers, for example.
  • View your friends' profiles: Follow links to your friends' profiles to see what they've been doing on Facebook.
  • View and edit your profile: Fill in details and upload a profile picture to help your friends recognize you.

Note that there's also a group of tabs near the top of the home page—Profile, Friends, and Inbox. Of these, the profile is where you typically spend the most time. It's how you present yourself publicly to other Facebook members.

Here's an overview of these tabs. You'll spend a lot of time with them in Facebook:

  • Profile: A user's profile is usually the center of his or her Facebook experience; it displays the user to the Facebook community. Your photo is here, your personal information (as much as you want to show), your mini-feed (which keeps you in touch with the activities of other friends), and so on. This is also where other users can drop in and leave you messages (on your "Wall," as you'll see shortly).
  • Friends: The Friends tab opens the Friends page, where you manage and add friends. Here you can group your friends into lists, add or remove them, and more. This is a very important page for the friend-oriented Facebook user.

    In addition, this is where Facebook suggests people it thinks you might know, and whom you might want to become friends with.

  • Inbox: This is the message center of Facebook. Here's where you read your messages. (By default, you're also notified at your regular email address when a Facebook user sends you a message—but you have to log into Facebook to read it.) Here you can compose, read, and send messages to other people, friends, and lists of friends.

    That's right—you can send messages to whole lists of friends (and each friend list can contain 1,500 friends). However, you have to be careful not to spam. Users can report you with a single click if you do spam, and you risk losing your account. We'll see how to create friend lists in this chapter.

Note that you can keep track of your friends' current status on the right side of Figure 1.2. For example, you can read that "Rodney Rumford is loving multiple social networks." You can set your status on your profile at any time, and any changes you make are updated on your friends' home pages.

Note also that at the bottom of the home page is your news feed. When you get some friends, you can keep track of their doings here. Take a look at the news feed shown in Figure 1.3.

Figure 1.3

Figure 1.3 The home page's news feed.

Whenever a friend takes some public action (this person can decide what's publicly watchable), it shows up in the news feed. Later in this book, we'll look at how to use the news feed for business purposes.

The news feed is one of the most important parts of Facebook, because it keeps users in touch with what's going on with their friends, even when their friends don't know they're being watched. This feature is one of the primary reasons that people get obsessed with Facebook.

Because the Profile, Friends, and Inbox tabs are central to the Facebook experience, we'll look at each one in the following sections.

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