Say Hello to Facebook
The big dog in social networking was part of the second wave. It was 2004 when a site originally known as “Thefacebook” was introduced. What eventually became known as just “Facebook” was originally intended as a site where college students could socialize online. Sensing opportunity beyond the college market, however, Facebook opened its site to high school students in 2005, and to users of all ages (actually, users above the age of 13) in 2006.
This broadening in Facebook’s user base led to a huge increase in both users and pageviews, with Facebook surpassing MySpace in April 2008. Facebook is currently the number-two site on the entire Internet, with more than 500 million users of all ages. That’s a pretty big deal.
So if you want to social network today, Facebook is the place to do it. Facebook is a big honkin’ Web community, a site that offers a lot of different ways to publicly and privately communicate with lots and lots of other people.
Chances are you already know a lot of folks who use Facebook. It goes without saying that your kids and their friends are all Facebook users; it’s a rare youngster, indeed, who doesn’t have Facebook as his or her browser home page. But it’s not just the younger generation. You’ll also find neighbors, co-workers, friends, and older family members using the site.
What Facebook offers is a collection of user profile pages. Every user has his or own profile page, where they post their status updates, display their personal information, share photos and videos, and such. When you become a “friend” of a person, you get access to their profile page, and all that’s on it. You have to ask people to be their friend; over time, you’ll probably assemble a rather large list of such friends.
Facebook also offers profile pages for groups. A group can be a charitable organization, a company, or just an online club revolving around a specific topic. Facebook has groups for cat lovers, chess players, gardeners, and the like. There are also groups (more like fan clubs) for musicians, comedians, actors, television shows, movies, and the like. As with personal profile pages, these group pages feature news about the topic at hand, photos, discussions, and such.
News—called status updates—from your friends and the groups you join are displayed in a constantly flowing news feed that appears on your Facebook home page. Everything that everybody’s doing is listed there; it’s how you keep track of all you deem important.
As you’ll learn in the next chapter, to use Facebook you have to join the site—become a member, as it were. Facebook membership and use is totally free; all you have to spend is your time.