4: Friends

(EN: Repeating this notice at the head of each chapter: the specific details of this book are likely outdated, but the core concepts of social networking are likely timeless.)

The value of social networking is connecting and interacting with other people in the network. On Facebook, a person to whom you have connected is termed a "friend."

(EN: The author doesn't go into semantics, but many have remarked some discomfort at the use of the term "friend," which implies a deeper connection or personal endorsement of another individual. There's likely much to be said about this, but in the context of FB, a "friend" is anyone to whom you are connected, regardless of the depth or nature of the actual relationship.)

Generally, a person begins building a network of friends by connecting to the individual(s) who encouraged them to join FB in the first place, then branches out to people they know in real life (family, colleagues, acquaintances), an branching out from there.

Finding People

The most straightforward way to find other people on FB is simply to search for them using the FB search engine - enter the name of a person you know, and a lsit of matching people will appear - a few will pop up immediately, and a link is provided to "see more results"

Another method is to use the "Find Friends" link, which will enable you to provide your username and password to other sites where you maintain a list of contacts (email, online chat, and other such sites), and Facebook will attempt to find them by the information in your contact list.

(EN: Some have suggested this to be a bad idea - once FB has your password, it can rifle through your correspondence and other information on the other site, and may monitor future correspondence. This may seem a bit paranoid, but FB has a long enough record of misbehavior that providing this level of access seems inadvisable.)

Once you find a person you know and wish to connect with, you must send a request to connect, which they must approve before you will be connected on FB. Outbound and Inbound requests are covered in the next section.

Once you have connected to a few friends, it will snowball: you will be able to browse their lists of friends to find people you may also know, you will see non-friends who comment on friends' items in the news feed, FB itself will attempt to suggest new connections, and other people will begin to find you and send requests to connect.

Friend Requests

Once you locate a person with whom you wish to connect, there is typically a prominent link to "add as friend." Clicking this launches a pop-up to send a request to them to make a connection - you have the option of sending a message (a good idea if the connection is tenuous) or just sending a generic friend request. Once they approve it, they will appear on your list of friends, and you will appear on theirs.

If you send a request and reconsider, you can cancel the request at any time until it has been accepted. (EN: The author does not disclose whether this comes to the other person's attention, but my understanding is that the request simply disappears - but I'd be more confident if it were described in more detail.)

The author also mentions in passing that you can "subscribe" to a person's feeds, remarking only that it is optional. (EN: again, a lack of detail about whether you can subscribe without becoming friends, if they other person is aware of and can block your attempt to subscribe, etc.)

The most common action to take on an inbound friend request is to confirm (accept) it. You can also stall the decision by clicking "not now" (EN: I think this has been removed since - you simply don't click anything and it will remain in a queue waiting for you to take action) or delete the request (EN: another change - I think the current action is to "ignore" a request, and "delete" or "unfriend is necessary only after accepting them).

When ignoring a request, you will be presented a few options that enables FB to investigate and react to abuse by people who pester strangers, generally with commercial motives. Also, the author mentions that ignoring a request does not send a message to the other person indicating you have chosen to refuse the invitation - it remains in their pending requests indefinitely.

(EN: There's likely much to be said about the design of these interactions that the author isn't saying - particularly in the etiquette of such interactions. Arguably, this is "tips on etiquette" in a book that means to provide objective "how to" instructions - but given the reader is presumed to be inexperienced, it seems a serious omission.)

Suggest Friends to Others

Another FB feature enables users to help one another by suggesting friends. The technique the author describes is outdated - the current method is to go to their profile page, use the "other actions" button (gear icon in the upper left) and use "suggest friends" to launch a modal window and select people to introduce.

(EN: Missing is the fact that this is fairly rare, and that both people will need to confirm before they will be connected. It's also not clear whether the friend request to another person that does not indicate an introduction was made by a third person. In all, much is left hazy here.)

Join a Network

The author refers to "networks" that exist around places such as schools, employers, etc., and gives you the ability to join the network of people associated to it.

However, the instructions provided don't work, and I do not see a way to explicitly join a network. You can "like" an institution, which means seeing posts the institution has made on your news feed and being able to visit its page to see other information, including its own wall.

Filter/Unfriend/Block People

(EN: This section provides much less detail than is desirable, the order is completely jumbled, and the instructions are wrong and outdated - so I've done some heavy editing to this section.)

Not all relationships are harmonious, and not all people behave courteously, so FB provides a handful of options for dealing with unwanted posts and unruly people: filtering, unfriending, and blocking:

Filtering is done from your news feed or another person's profile, to ignore certain posts from them - either based on criteria (blocking game-related posts is common) or entirely. When you opt to ignore (or unsubscribe from) posts, you remain "friends" with the person but do not see their content in your news feed.

Unfriending breaks the connection with another person entirely. By choosing "unfriend" (on their profile page), they become like any other user with whom you have not connected.

Blocking a person is even more extreme: not only does it remove the "friends" connection, but it prevents them from attempting to re-connect with you, send you private messages, or even seeing any information about you. In effect, you have become invisible to them - though you may see the comments they make on posts by other friends or in third-party applications.

Any of these actions can be undone (though to re-friend someone, they must again accept your invite), and no notice is sent to the other person when you filter, unfriend, or block them, though they may notice that you have disappeared from their list of friends if you unfriend or block them.