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Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Facebook - What it is and is it for you.

Facebook has been public now for a couple of months. In that time it has grown exponentially. The Toronto network on Facebook is largest in the world for a city (over 500,000 members and growing fast).

I've been on Facebook now for about a month. It is great for a number of things. But, it is also a big time-waster and can get addictive. If you have a lot of friends it can get to be like a 24 hour party on-line. A party of typing and clicking. Ha!

Old Friends
I've found it useful for finding and connecting with old friends that I had lost touch with.

Searching for friends
You can easily search for friends who are on contact lists for web-based email (like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo...). And, you can also search for friends who are in your address book if you use an email program like Thunderbird, Outlook, etc. Open your address book, export it as a file, then you can upload it in the search page. Facebook searches your contact list to see if any of these people (by their email address) is on Facebook. If a person is using an address you don't have, it won't find them this way though.
You can also search by typing in the name. Or, by looking on friends Friends Lists.

You can customize the privacy settings in many ways. Unlike MySpace, where you can see someone's page if you are not a member, you can't see anything in Facebook unless you are a member and you log in. You can set it so only your friends can see your profile, photos, etc. And you can also customize what different friends can see or not. You can set up secret events that only the invitees can see.

If you want to NOT be found by old high school "friends", then don't use your full name/real name and/or don't list your high school under Education. Most people use their real full names, but some use a nickname and some use a first name and last initial. Also, you don't have to post your photo. You can put up any picture you want in place of your photo.
You can set things up so can remain hidden from those you want to hide from - This includes potential employers doing checks on potential employees (for if you put up embarrassing photos of yourself and talk about things on your profile you don't want certain people to see). And, you can set things up so your close friends can see all you want them to see.

You can completely block people (like stalkers) if you want. You might bump into someone on another friends Friends List that you don't want any contact with. You can block this person. What this means is that they cannot find you if they do a search in Facebook. They cannot see you on a Friends List. And they cannot see any information about you that might pop up on another of your friends pages (like status updates, wall posts, photos you are tagged in, etc).

Facebook Marketplace
They just added free classified ads (sort of similar to craigslist). If you aren't in a network, you have to join a network to post an ad. I posted my business, Thor Tech Support, to it yesterday. Remember to adjust your privacy settings when you join a network if you only want your friends to see your profile. By default, when you join a network, anyone in the network can see your profile.

You can post photos, tag photos, create photo albums, and you can also share your photo album with family and friends who are not on Facebook (via a special link at the bottom of the specific photo album page).

Theres lots of other things you can do on Facebook, but I've mentioned some of the basics above.

Is Facebook For You?
If you don't have any friends, or family, and/or you don't want any, if you hate using a computer, especially anything to do with the Internet, if you are a Luddite, then Facebook is not for you.

Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with friends, family members, co-workers, school friends, etc. With Facebook you can share photos, ideas, send out invitations, etc. If this is you, then Facebook is for you. If you are a parent and your kids want to get into a social network, Facebook can be (along with proper Internet-parenting, instruction and privacy settings) a safe environment for children/teens too.

It can be very addictive and a time-waster, but it can also be a great social tool, whether your Friends List is 5 or 500 people.


Marc said...

I won't do Facebook because it wants me to hand over a shitload of info...and it's a time-waster.

But I do have a boat blog:

It helps me to keep my mental checklists in order, and is a bit of "payback" for all the good blogs I've read that have given me ideas.

Check out the entry where some tools nearly rolled our boat. Eek.

Thor said...

Actually, Facebook doesn't require much personal info. You don't have to fill out most of the personal stuff to set it up. It lets you enter a lot of information if you want to.

All that is required is a contact email address (for Facebook admin to contact you) and a password, and a name, which can be anything you want. Everything else is voluntary.