Facebook started in the United States as a way for some college kids to stay in touch when they had left campus - and it’s evolved since then to become one of the largest social networks in the world. Here’s how you can get involved.
Facebook is a vast, sprawling network and you can make whatever you want of it. You sign up by putting some details, and preferably a photo of yourself, on the Facebook website. Then you’re ready to start posting a few updates.
These updates are statements about what you’re up to, links to interesting stuff you’ve seen elsewhere on the web - it’s up to you. As word gets around that you’re online, you’ll find old friends start to get in touch. They may have heard about you being on Facebook or they may have found you after doing a search.
Facebook itself will send notes on people you might know, based on the fact that you went to the same school or college or shared an employer (you only have to put up as much of this sort of information as you want).
Word of caution
Be a little wary about the information you share on Facebook. If you display your town, date of birth, marital status and other personal facts, someone might be able to get enough information to steal your identity (it’s unlikely, but be careful).
You might want to go into your profile page (it’s easy to find once you’ve signed up, there’s a tab on the homepage) and make sure you’re not sharing all of your information with everyone who happens to log on.
Soon you’ll be in touch with a lot of people, exchanging views and information on your page (or ’wall’ as Facebook calls it) and vice versa. If your friends are online when you log on, you’ll find a list of them to one side of the screen and you can send instant messages.
You can also put pictures of yourself up. Want to share holiday snaps with your aunt who lives in Australia? No problem, upload them and share them with her.
There are other things Facebook adds on - you can play games across the internet, you can tell it which book you’re reading at the moment, you can rate films and get recommendations. You can join groups of people with similar interests, you can join Facebook groups representing your favourite TV or radio programmes and chat to like-minded people about them.
It all starts with a simple sign-up to the most basic stuff, which enables you to make announcements and engage with people online. Catching up with old friends, making new ones, sharing an interest with a group of people or sharing your photos with someone the other side of the world - it’s only as limited as you want to make it.