Jenna Jakowatz: How-to "Facebook"

I.    Introduction to Social Networking- Facebook
Facebook is by far the largest social networking website in existence, boasting over five-hundred million users. Facebook is a way for people of any age, race, gender, and class to use for free to connect with friends and family, and to write about anything they desire. You can publicize just about anything you want (as long as it is not nude photography or videos, or other similar profanities).

How you choose to use Facebook is up to you. You are the author. Whether you want to let the world know that you are “going to the gym!” or that your “dog ran away, he is white with brown trim,” Facebook allows you to write whatever you want, or show your friends whatever pictures you can upload. The biggest issue is how “open” you want to be with your Facebook profile. Utilizing Facebook, you can write whatever you want to, post pictures of whatever you can capture, and connect with friends and family around the world; the only decision you have to make is how much content you are comfortable with everyone seeing.

II.    How to “Facebook”
Because social networking is so broad, there aren’t really any “steps” to follow when it comes to Facebook. Instead, you can pick and choose which particular aspects you want to partake in. These many different aspects allow you to connect with your Facebook “friends” in several ways. The aspects that are most used are:

1.    Friends- This is what Facebook was created for. These are the readers to your writing. When you first join Facebook you start off with no friends. When you “request to add a user as a friend” you are informing that person that you want to be connected with them on Facebook. They can choose to “deny” or “accept” you, and if they do accept you, your “friendship” makes it so both of you can see exactly what the other is doing. Friends can comment on statuses, photos, videos, wall posts, etc. Some users only have a few dozen friends, while other users have added over one thousand. My warning to you is to be careful about who you decide to add as your friends. If you do not know a person, or think it might be a fake profile, do not add them. Think of it this way: if you don’t talk to random strangers in person, don’t talk to random strangers online.

2.    Statuses- these can be anything, anything. Statuses can be anything under a few hundred characters that include but are not limited to, life updates, questions, rants, thank yous, etc. When you post a status (in short), you are sharing with all of your friends what is going on with you. This is the ultimate form of publicizing on Facebook, so keep in mind before posting that all of your friends will be able to see and comment on it, so I wouldn’t recommend posting anything you wouldn’t be comfortable with, say, your grandmother seeing.

3.    Messages and Wall Posts- Messages are private forms of communication between one user and another that cannot be seen by anyone but the two users involved. Wall posts, are simply one user writing a comment or message on another user’s profile that can be seen by all of the latter’s user’s friends. While you are the author of your own profile, your readers can add in their own commentary.

4.    Notes- a kind of mini-blog. Notes are like statuses but are much longer posts that can be about anything. Notes can be as long as you can make them, and can be written about whatever you choose.

5.    Photos- you can upload pictures directly from your computer and create albums to show people what you have been up to. Although you cannot post profane pictures, you can upload just about anything from baby pictures, to college partying. Photos are a great way to connect with friends or family who live far away, but I would recommend not posting any pictures of say, underage drinking, gang-affiliated photos, “questionable” ways of dressing (ie racy clothing, gang-apparel, vulgar language), and like I mentioned before, anything you would not be comfortable with your grandmother viewing.

6.    Videos- videos, like pictures, can be uploaded to Facebook. As long as they are not profane, videos can have a large range of content.

7.    Personal Information- This includes all the basics such as name, hometown, date of birth, etc. But it can also get a little more “personal.” It can also include (if you choose to include it) your relationship status (ie single, dating someone, married, etc), religious and political views, the types of music and movies you are interested in, an “about me” section and “quotations” section, as well as contact information like emails and phone numbers, as well as family members you can link to. You do not have to include any of this information except for what you decide you want your friends to know. I would not recommend putting your precise address in your personal information, nor would I recommend including information that you are not comfortable with everyone knowing.

8.    News Feed- Facebook’s home page. Once you log in, this will show you the details of what is going on with all of your friends. This includes pictures people have posted, status updates, wall posts, videos, events people are attending, and so on. The news feed feature keeps you updated on a minute basis on what all of your friends are doing on their Facebooks.

9.    Privacy Features- Facebook allows users to utilize (or not utilize) their profile privacy. When you create a Facebook profile, you have the option to make it so that only friends (people who request to see your profile that you have confirmed) can see your profile, or so that every Facebook user (whether they are your friends or not) can see everything on your profile. These privacy features make it so that you can hide your name from searches, hide your entire profile from people who are not friends, hide pictures, wall posts, and even personal information. Some choose to have their privacy settings maxed out, while others leave their profile completely public, so that even if you’re not a friend of the user, as long as you have a Facebook profile, you can see everything they post. If you are not particularly fond of another Facebook user, you have the option to “block” them, meaning that they will not be able to see your profile whatsoever, or even see any of your activity on other people’s profiles.

III.    Facebook’s Formatting and Structure
You are the author when you create a Facebook. You decide what you post, and what you decide to leave out. Facebook is organized into photos, videos, wall posts, statuses, and a few other minor sections. When you make a profile, you decide what to include, and what to leave out. The three main tabs on any profile will usually be “Wall” (where you see all of the user’s activity), “Information” (where you see the user’s personal information) and “Photos” (photos the user has uploaded). With this format, you can choose what you want people to see, and what you do not.

IV.    The Do NOT’s of Facebook
Facebook is an amazing form of communication, in the sense that anyone can create a profile and use it. But that’s also the problem. Anyone can make a Facebook profile. Pedophiles, criminals, grandparents, teachers, any of these people could potentially be a friend of yours on Facebook. When you post something, the biggest thing you need to keep in mind is that if you do not make sure your privacy settings are secure, anyone can see what you are up to. If your Facebook profile is public, and your status is “I’m at Dillion’s on 23rd street!” this means that anyone who goes on your public profile, whether they be friend or not, can see that you are clearly at “Dillion’s on 23rd street.” Now, imagine if this person wishes to do you harm. They know exactly where you are, and when.

Facebook is great for connecting with friends you haven’t seen in a while, but if you are not somewhat conservative with what you post, it could damage your reputation. When looking for a job, many companies will not hire people who have questionable material on their Facebook profiles. It is also easy for anyone to gain access to your Facebook profile, even if it is private. For example, your mother could be looking at your brother’s one day, and see those racy Halloween pictures she wasn’t supposed to see. You can publish as much or as little as you desire, but keep in mind, if you do decide to post things that are "questionable" do not be surprised if soon after you feel repercussions.   

My own Facebook profile
Facebook's profile