2: The User Profile

(EN: Repeating this notice at the head of each chapter: the specific details of this book are likely outdated, but the core concepts of social networking are likely timeless.)

Your profile is the centerpiece of your Facebook experience: it represents who you are to the community of users. Aside of narcissism, it enables others to recognize you and engage you in conversation about common interests and shared experiences. It also enables Facebook to identify or recommend connections and applications.

(EN: The author delicately avoids the topic of advertising, but that's how FB makes money, and it's likely tolerable to a user to know that the profile will be used to determine what ads might be appropriate to show them.)

Referring to the previous chapter, most of the information in a profile is optional, and there is some affordance to indicate which information you wish to share with which other people.

Basic Information

Profile Picture

You can provide (and update) a single profile picture that will appear on your page, next to any comment associated to you, and in various references and directories in which you are mentioned/listed.

Some random details: the file can be uploaded from a computer, taken with a device's camera, has a 4 MB size limit, and there are some basic editing/cropping capabilities.

Featured People

Since FB was originally created for college students, knowing if another person is available for dating was a key feature. Since it's gone mainstream, other options (married, widowed, divorced, civil union, etc.) have been added to accommodate a broader array of lifestyles, and you can identify the person with whom you are in a relationship and an anniversary date.

There is a separate capability to set up family members, who will be identified and listed separately from general "friends" on your profile page. Presently, individuals who use FB are asked to confirm these relationships.

(EN: The current implementation is a bit odd. Presently, my wife is listed at the top as "married to", appears again under "Friends", and then shows up as my wife under "Family"

FB also enables you to organize friends into groups or lists so you can communicate to specific subsets of the people you know. (EN: This, too, is a bit awkward to find and manage, and the groups appear on your wall, not your profile.

Education and Work History

This section indicates your schools and workplaces, along with positions/degrees and years of attendance. This enables classmates and colleagues to locate you.

Facebook attempts to overcome the problem of typos and variations in names by using auto complete, such that all the people associated to an organization use the same name for it. Users may still enter text that does not match any known organization to create a new one. (EN: One noted problem with this is when small businesses in different locations have the same name - a user can work around this, but it's a bit awkward)

In your profile, the name of each organization will link to a community page. (EN: The community pages are not the same as a page created or managed by the organization, and are very empty as far as I can see.)


Facebook enables people who wish to do so to share their religious and political views (EN: a questionable practice, but for those who want to broadcast, it's there), indicate people who inspire you, and add favorite inspirational quotations.

All of this is free text, though for the first three, FB will offer autocomplete options.

Arts and Entertainment

Enables users to indicate what music, books, movies, television shows, and games they like.


Favorite sports, teams, and athletes can be listed.

Activities and Interests

Asks about "activities" and "interests" that have no indication of what those might be, or what the difference between them is.

Contact Information

Enables you to enter e-mail addresses, IM screen names, phone numbers, an address, and web sites, that others can use to contact you through other channels.

The author makes a few cursory remarks about privacy concerns, but much like other personal information, whether to disclose is a matter of personal choice.