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Facebook, the Missing Manual

by E. A. Vander Veer. 268 pp. Pogue Press/O’Reilly, 2008. $19.99 ISBN 78-0-596-1-51769-6

Facebook, the hugely popular online social networking website, was created in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zucherberg as a private social networking site for Harvard students. It quickly expanded to other college campuses, then welcomed high school students in 2005 and opened to the general public in 2006. There are currently over 70 million active users, more than half of whom are not in college. It’s a genuine phenomenon, not to mention a whole lot of fun.

Facebook, the Missing Manual is a handy and informative guide that helps you to get started, make the most of your Facebook experience, and – perhaps most important – protect your privacy.

In case you’re new to Facebook, author E. A. Vander Veer starts with how to sign up for an account, add a profile and picture, and view and edit your information. She then explains how to interact with the three basic components of Facebook: networks, friends, and groups.

A network can be a location (Albany, NY), a school (Oneonta High School, Hartwick College) or an employer (Apple Computer); you’ll learn how to join one or several, including those that need specific email addresses (like hartwick.edu). You’ll also learn how to locate, invite, interact with, and, if necessary, “unfriend” a collection of friends, and how to find, join and create groups, which are informal gatherings of people with interests in common.

Once you’ve “friended” some folks, you’ll learn how to send and receive messages, write on a friend’s Wall (which Vander Veer likens to a dry-erase message board on a dorm room door), give and receive a poke (the equivalent of saying “hey, you!) and send a virtual gift.

The book also details how find and place event listings and classified ads and how to use Facebook for professional uses such as job searches, employment recruiting and project collaboration as well as establishing and finding pages for businesses, products, artists and public figures. Finally, you’ll learn how to control your privacy settings and how to use Facebook Mobile on your iPhone, iPod touch or other mobile device.

Whether you’re a veteran Facebook user, just starting out, or simply wondering what the fuss is all about, you’ll find plenty of useful, well-presented information in Facebook, the Missing Manual. Recommended.

– Elsa Travisano

Copyright ©2008 by Elsa Travisano. This review appeared in the May 2008 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.