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What is Facebook and What Does it Do?

From Sonia, published on 02/03/2018 Blog > Academia > Information Technology > What is Facebook all About?

You are what you share.

– C.W. Leadbeater

If, in everyday life, we regularly wear different masks (our work face, our going-out face, our friends face…) this is even more true for social media.We are in complete control over what we share with out contacts, or the World Wide Web. We can re-invent ourselves completely.
So: are you ready to put on a new mask and join the most widely-used social network: Facebook?

Facebook: A History

Whether you simply want to download the Facebook app to keep track of family or want to create your own Facebook group, you will catch the social media fever soon enough.

Facebook was created in 2004 and will celebrate its 14th birthday on February 3rd, 2018. Mark Zuckerberg is the inventor and CEO of the social network site.
In 2017, it was the third most visited website behind Google and YouTube and, as of June 2017, has more than 2 billion users worldwide. This includes over 80% of the population of the UK!
Facebook was created at Harvard University and was designed at first as a way for students to connect. It soon opened up to other universities before becoming available to the general public in September 2006. Anyone with an email address and above the age of 13 can create a Facebook account.

In April 2008, the Facebook Messenger app saw the light of day. It’s an IM app that lets you talk to your Facebook friends in a private conversation.

What is Facebook For?

The site’s name is taken from that of pamphlets with the staff and student’s names and pictures handed out at the beginning of the college year in US universities. Facebook lets its users publish pictures, images, YouTube videos, personal ads, documents; exchange messages, create and join groups, make professional sites… The goal behind a social network it to link people together. Facebook lets its users enter personal data such as relationship status, where they studied and their interests.

Mark Zuckerberg programmed Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook as a way to link university students together by showing their interests and activities. Photo credit: deneyterrio on Visual hunt

Why use Facebook?

There are a lot of reasons you could want to use Facebook:

  • To stay in touch with friends and family
  • To  contact childhood friends or friends you have lost touch with
  • To express yourself and share your passions through your Facebook page and profile
  • To stay informed about important events in the lives of your contacts through your Wall: births, weddings, holidays…
  • To exchange private news with your friends via Messenger, the Facebook chatbox
  • To read news articles that interest you by following or “liking” the pages of the news channel you are interested in
  • To reach out with your company, run ads and communicate information to your clients and prospective clients through a company Facebook page
  • To find help when you encounter a problem by using Facebook groups such as Wanted Community
  • To buy, sell or exchange things through buy/sell groups

The uses of social media are plenty!

How To Create a Facebook Account

As it evolves, Facebook has added new functions but also aimed to simplify account creation to attract more Internet users to the site and keep them coming back.

Creating a Facebook account on the computer

Creating your own Facebook account doesn’t require any particular IT skills. It is relatively easy if you follow these simple steps:

  • Go to a your search engine of choice (Google, Yahoo, Ecosia…) and enter “facebook” in the search bar, then click on the link that comes up OR
  • Type “www.facebook.com” in your url bar

    The facebook "create account" page When you first go onto the facebook website, this is the page you should be getting. Screenshot Focke

  • A page like the one above will appear. It is divided into two: on the top right, you will find a button called “login” for when you already have an account; on the bottom right a registration form will appear. Note that registering is free and will stay that way: Facebook is financed though ads.
  • Enter your first and last name; they will appear on your Facebook profile and in the Facebook search engine in the order you entered them. So remember, first name, then last name, don’t reverse them – people looking for you are more likely to enter your name in that order. If you had rather use a pseudonym, this is the time to enter it. It is possible to change your name every 60 days.
  • Then enter either your cell phone number or your email address: choose a phone number or e-mail address that you check on regularly in case you forget your password and need to have it sent to you. You will also be informed if someone has hacked your account. If you decide to use your email address, a new box will appear asking you to confirm it.
  • You will then need to choose a password for Facebook. It has to be at least 6 characters long and include letters and punctuation. For better security, choose a complicated password and avoid things like your birthday or any information a stranger could easily access by surfing the Internet (the name of your dog, your husband’s birthday…)Enter your date of birth. Facebook is closed to those under 13 years of age. Then enter your sex.
  • Click on the button “Create account”.
  • You will be asked to confirm your account through a message in your mailbox. Follow the link and click on the button “Confirm account”

Creating a Facebook account on a smartphone or tablet is similar to what is described here. Just go to the AppleStore or Playstore to download the app.

How to find friends on Facebook

Once you have confirmed your Facebook account, you have opened a window onto a new world. You can invite people to become your friends.
Your Facebook account is linked to your e-mail address, so the first time you log in, the social network will propose friends to you from your address book who are already on Facebook. You can then “add” them as friends (or not).
You can also skip this step by clicking “next” on the bottom right.

How To Use Facebook

Once you have finished creating your account, you will be prompted to flesh out your profile page.

Creating your profile page

So what information should you give on your Facebook profile?
Add a profile picture or image: chose a recent one so that people who know you recognise you and can accept your friend request. You can also add a header image, of your family, a nice landscape from your last holidays…On the top right, you can also modify your profile: you will be asked to write a bio describing yourself in a few words, to chose a featured image (some of your favourite pictures that will help people get to know you better) and you can modify your “about” page.
In the “about” page, you can enter:

  • Where you studied and where you work: workplace, competences, university, school
  • Places you’ve lived: birthplace, current residence…
  • General information: your email is not displayed on your profile, but you can choose to make it visible along with your telephone number, address, website (we would recommend posting these only if you are creating a business page); religion, political opinions…
  • Family and relationship: your relationship status and members of your family
  • Details about you
  • Important life experiences (your birthday is generally entered by default)

Some other information can be noted, such as sports, music, films, TV programmes, books – your profile is a true ID card; it’s up to you to decide what you want to share with your friends or potential clients.

Your new profile page on Facebook. Once you’ve entered all your data, your profile page should look something like this. The little boxed picture on the top left is your profile picture, the large horizontal one your header. Photo credit: Sean MacEntee on Visual hunt

About Facebook Public or Private Profiles

Who sees your Facebook posts?
Note that for now, everything you have published is visible to your friends. This is the default setting when you create a Facebook account.
To modify the audience for your post, simply click on the button marked “friends” and choose between:

  • Public (everyone can see your posts, even people not on your friends list)
  • Friends
  • Friends, except (you can hide your post from one or more people – for example, when planning a surprise birthday party)
  • Friends and their friends
  • Only me (if it’s just a memo for yourself)

To go a step further and learn how to secure your Facebook account against misuse, check out this article.

How to publish on Facebook

So you’ve created your account, set up your profile and already found some friends – now it’s time to post your first content!

  • Go to your profile or start page
  • Find the posting interface box
  • To post a text message, simply click inside the box and type your message.

how to post content on Facebook Updating your profile and posting content is very simple. Photo credit: Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta on VisualHunt.com

You can also:

  • Add an image or a video
  • Indicate your geographical location
  • Note your mood or activity (cheerful, watching Daredevil, drinking a beer…)
  • Tag friends
  • Post a GIF or a sticker
  • Ask for recommendations
  • Do a survey
  • Answer questions
  • Tag an event

To tag someone in your post, you can simply use @+person’s username and the person in question will receive a message notifying him that he has been tagged. Tags also work on events.

Hashtags do work in Facebook, though they aren’t as common as on Twitter or Instagram.

If you post a link to an article, your feed will automatically show a picture taken from the article along with your comment on it.

Now go off and discover all the possibilities behind a Facebook post! And I’m sure you will soon find out everything there is to know about the site’s functions.

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