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(EN: Repeating this notice at the head of each chapter: the specific details of this book are likely outdated, but the core concepts of social networking are likely timeless.)

This chapter covers some of the various communications tools available on Facebook: the wall, comments, private messages, chat, poles, groups, and tagging.

There's a brief remark that communication can be public or private, depending on the form of communication, default settings, and message-specific preferences.

The Wall

Your "wall" contains a reverse-chronological listing of your activities on FB: update your status, post a video/photo, share a link, or other activities, and these updates are posted to your friends' news feeds. The wall also contains notices of other activities, such as making a new friend, commenting on a post, changing profile information, etc., though some of these do not get updated in the news feed.

(EN: Some of this appears to have changed recently. I'm noticing a lot less chatter on the news feed when people change a profile photo or update their profile, but maybe that's just happenstance.)

Unless privacy settings have been changed to prevent it, you will also be able to post comments and items directly to another user's wall. The form for doing so is located on their personal page, in the same location "update status" appears on your news feed.

A loose tip: tapping "enter" will submit the post, but shift-enter will create a line break in the message, enabling you to make updates or posts of more than one paragraph.


FB provides private user-to-user messages that do not appear on the wall or news feed. The messages can be one-to-one or among a group of people.

Your messages page is accessed by an icon in the navigation bar, and works like a (weak and lame) mailbox that contains threaded conversations with other users

Messages can be sent using the "new message" button in your message center, which launches a dialog to specify recipients and provide message content. Also, a link to send a message to someone appears on their wall, and there are shortcuts in various places their profile appears.

Facebook has recently enabled users to set up an e-mail account "@facebook.com" that manages communications that is sent to any e-mail address (even non-facebook users)

The author reports that FB is integrating the message center to consolidate all communications, including messages, chat transcripts, and e-mail - but apparently, they haven't done so yet.


Facebook Chat is an instant message (IM) client that requires both parties to be connected to Facebook at the same time. Facebook chat can also be set up to connect to a mobile device, which is explained in more detail in chapter nine.

The chat client can be lunched by using the "chat" tab at the lower left of the screen, or selecting an individual from "friends on chat" in the left column. Shortcuts to chat with an individual may be provided in other locations as well.

An individual is shown with a green icon when they are available to chat (active and online), a yellow moon if they are connected but idle (no action taken in ten minutes - the window containing FB may not be active on their computer), or a white mobile icon if they are accessible to chat via their mobile device.

Unless you have set your preferences otherwise, you will be shown as available for chat to other of your friends who are online, and can be managed by the settings (gear icon) in the chat tab.

Chat is typically one-to-one, though the author indicates you can chat with a group of people (more detail on group chat option in chapter eleven) or creating an ad-hoc list in the chat widget.

The author list some of the other features of chat: the ability to chat in a pop-out window, have multiple chat sessions at once, and use emoticons, but in scant detail.


The notion of "poke" is similar to waving at someone - it was referred to by the site's founder as "a feature without any specific purpose" and has not evidently found one, as it is now well-buried on the site (under the "other actions" on a person's profile page).

(EN: There were previous features in other social applications, such as multiplayer games, that enabled users to "just say hi" without initiating a conversation with someone or interrupt what they are doing. I've not noticed anyone use it, ever, but then it may be popular with some folks whom I don't know.)


Tagging is used as a way to identify a person who appears in a photo that someone else has posted: you can select a section of the image and "tag" it with their name. The act will be called to their attention, and will be shown under "photos and videos of you" on their "photos" page.

(EN: "Tagging" is sometimes used improperly, just to call a person's attention to a photo in which they do not appear. There is no consensus on whether this is OK, though some folks seem to do this excessively, and at the risk of being griped at, unfriended, or blocked)

If you are tagged in a photo, you have a number of options: you can leave the tag in place and have it removed from your profile, remove the tag, or remove the tag and report the user for having tagged you, depending on what is appropriate.

You can also enter an e-mail address to tag someone who is not a FB user, and they will receive an e-mail with a link to the image. (EN: This is largely a hope on the part of FB that such individuals will join the network.)

Commenting, Liking, and Sharing

(EN: The author completely omits the use of commenting, liking, and sharing as methods of communicating with other users. This seems a fairly significant omission, as FB users tend to use these options far more often than others, and it doesn't seem to be covered in detail elsewhere in the book. However, it's also fairly intuitive: commenting adds a remark to a thread that appears directly beneath an item on the news feed or a wall; "like" is a way of remarking without actually making an original statement; and "share" makes the item available on your wall, to people you know who are not friends of the person who originally posted it. As to specifics, etiquette, and tips, nothing is on offer in this book.)