A newbie's guide to Facebook

We examine the fast-growing social networking site and detail its offerings from a business and personal perspective

There's a lot of buzz about Facebook, but what is it, exactly? What does it do? Can anybody join? How much does it cost?

In this article, I'll give you the basics of joining Facebook and what you can expect to find there. I'll explain the opportunities and services available for businesses and for individuals, based on my experience as a newbie who recently joined.

Until I became a member, I didn't really know what Facebook was. A friend of mine had told me that he met his fiancee on Facebook. Another friend said she gets together with her friends from all over the city on Facebook every Thursday from 7 to 9pm. Then I overheard a colleague at work say that he'd been looking for his high school girlfriend for years and, just recently, found her on Facebook, living in Scotland with her deceased husband's family.

All these things left me confused. At first, I believed Facebook was an online dating service, then I thought it was a chat room and then a worldwide phone directory. Then another colleague told me that members could advertise anything imaginable -- from skiing to skydiving to skeet shooter's clay pigeons -- on the Facebook Marketplace, for free. That sold me. I signed up that very day.

About Facebook

Facebook was launched in February 2004 by a young Harvard student named Mark Zuckerberg. It started out as a sort of virtual campus hangout for Ivy League students, but quickly expanded from the university to the universe, and now anyone 13 or older can join.

It's growing quickly across the globe (250,000 people become members every day) with new sites in Spanish, German and French.

It's also gaining on the more established social networking site MySpace. Forrester Research analyst Jeremiah Owyang says, "We predict that the total registered users of Facebook will eclipse the total amount of MySpace users in Q4 of 2008 but, even with that said, MySpace and Facebook will coexist, because they both serve different purposes to different audiences."

According to Owyang, Facebook is more of a lifestyle site. That is, like the college campuses where it was launched, Facebook has become a central networking hub where its members can connect and share, in spite of their busy lives. Its largest, growing audience is the 35+ crowd. MySpace tends to attract the younger social surfers who are more media conscious and therefore flock to MySpace's "bands and brands" multimedia options, which include various forms of artistic self-expression.

Joining Facebook

Joining Facebook is, literally, as easy as 1-2-3.

  • 1. Go to Facebook.com and create a UserID (your e-mail address), password and birth date (all three are mandatory fields). Notice that the Sign Up dialog box on the home page says: Sign up for Facebook. It's free and anyone can join. (So, that answered my questions about who could join and how much it costs.)
  • 2. Next, type in a security code (a Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart or CAPTCHA; you know, one of those strings of jumbled up, curvy letters that look like shorthand on a roller coaster).
  • 3. Then, Facebook says: You will get an e-mail shortly telling you how to confirm your account. The e-mail provides a link back to Facebook that, when activated, takes you back to the program to begin the ride.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Julie Sartain

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?