What is Facebook?

There was a time before the website Facebook exists where the word facebook was defined like this

A facebook is a printed or online directory consisting of individuals’ photographs and names. In particular, it denotes publications of this type distributed by university administrations at the start of the academic year with the intention of helping students get to know each other.

In 2004 Facebook, Inc. was founded and today (January 2011) they have 600 000 000 user . That is around 10{0f2b36d8f80fa52f37b916148a6e37fe671d96583f68d5887344addd2eee52a6} of the worlds population! The worth of the company is estimated with US$ 50 000 000 000 (50 billions).

And I  still meet people who have no facebook account. In this article I try to describe what facebook is for me and list the main features. I was looking for a possibility to find the exact date when I joined facebook, but I found nothing. I think it was early 2007. At that time I wrote a Joomla! book in English language and soon a few people wanted to be my friends. As you might know, I am originally German and the word friend is something very special. When I look at my real life friends in this German sense, I would say I have between one and five friends according to my definition of the word. In Facebook, I have more than 500 friends. Seems, that a friend in facebook is different from the my understanding. In December 2009, the New Oxford American Dictionary declared their word of the year to be the verb “unfriend”, defined as “To remove someone as a friend”.

What the hell am I doing with 500 friends?

Nothing special. It is like sitting in a café, watching people. On facebook I read posts from other people. I have a kind of relationship with all of them.

Let’s collect a few points

  1. You have to register an account on facebook to join this virtual café
  2. You can post a status, an event, a link and upload photos and videos
  3. You can write a message to one or more users
  4. You can ask other facebook users wether they want to be your friend and other users can ask you to be their friend
  5. You can comment and like a post of a friend
  6. You will be noticed via email or text message when something is happening on your wall

News feed

If you have done the steps before you can see your facebook news feed (figure 1)


Figure 1 – news feed


On your wall you see only the posts you wrote or posts from people who you allow to post on your wall (figure 2)


Figure 2 – Wall


When your are joining facebook you create your profile. Slowly you start optimizing it by uploading a profile photo, say something about yourself, etc. Other people (visitors and friends) can see your profile depending on your privacy settings (figure 3)


Figure 3 – Profile


I don’t want to say “forget privacy” but in facebooks world privacy is defined a bit different :-) You have usually the possibility to restrict more or less everything. The bigger problem is to know about these things and to find the right setting. Generally, the privacy settings are in your profile area. Facebook gives you default settings but sometimes they add services and settings and you don’t know it.


  • Poke: you can virtually ‘poke‘ other users. In English language poke means a lot. This is one is the funniest definition I have found ‘What my mom tells me not to be doing to any girls at the age of 15‘. If someone pokes you, you can poke back or remove the poke.
  • Like: you can like more or less everything on facebook by clicking the like button. Your friends see in there news feed that you liked something.
  • Comment: You can comment on nearly everything what is post there.
  • Notes: Notes is a blogging feature where you can write longer entries and combine them with photos (figure 4)


Figure 4 – Notes

  • Username: You can give your profile a username – Example: http://facebook.com/hagengraf
  • Pages: You can create a page for your business – Example: http://facebook.com/cocoate
    A page is like a profile for your business. Other people can like it and can post content if you allow that
    A directory of all pages can be found here http://www.facebook.com/pages/
  • Events: You can post events on your profile and on a page and you can invite your friends directly or via email (figure 5)


Figure 5 – Events

  • Mobile phone: You can install an application on your mobile phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Nokia) and can interact more ore less in a similar way like on the website
  • Places: You can create places and check in  a place from your mobile phone – Example: http://www.facebook.com/fimidi
  • Mention: You can mention a friend in a message with the @ (figure 6)


Figure 6 – Mention

  • Chat: You can chat with all friends who are online via a chat window that appears on the facebook webpage (figure 7)


Figure 7 – Chat

  • Applications: You can add thousands of applications developped by facebook and 3rd party developpers to your account. You can browse all available applications under http://www.facebook.com/apps (figure 8)


Figure 8 – Apps


Figure 9 – Live







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