By Ben Cerroni —

If you have been tuned in to the news, movies, political campaigns, and popular culture in general, you have probably heard about Facebook. You may already be one of the 800 million members currently signed up with Facebook or you may just be curious what all the fuss is about. Well, here is a crash course on what Facebook is and how you can use it to connect with people.

Facebook is a social network service that connects its members to other members in an online community. Facebook is free to use and all you need to sign up is an email address. When you sign up for Facebook, you are asked to set up a personal profile. This profile is an online representation of who you are as a person. Your profile can feature a picture of you and personal information on what town you live in, when your birthday is, where you work, your interests and many other things that describe the person you are. Your profile also provides a place to upload photos and keep a running blog or “Status” on what you are doing so others might see. But your profile is not open to anyone in the Facebook community. It is exclusively available to people you approve to be your “Friend” in the community. If someone wants to see your information he or she must first request your Facebook friendship and then be approved by you.

Facebook is great at connecting you with people in your life. It allows you to search by name or email address for people you may know. If you search and find old classmates from 40 years ago on Facebook, you can request his or her friendship and see where they now live, what they’re up to, pictures of their grandkids, and send them a message. It is a great way to keep in touch.

But it is also very important to understand the implications of putting your personal information online because of the chance of compromising your privacy. Facebook has extensive privacy safeguards, but the only guarantee against your personal information falling into the wrong hands online is not having it online at all.

Nonetheless, for hundreds of millions of people, Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. See what it is all about at

Ben Cerroni is on the staff of The Advocate, helped us go online, and is in business at GranitePeak Web Solutions.

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