7: Events

(EN: Repeating this notice at the head of each chapter: the specific details of this book are likely outdated, but the core concepts of social networking are likely timeless.)

Facebook "events" originated as a method for college students to arrange offline activities with their colleagues, and many of the features and capabilities (and lack thereof) stems from that intention.

Access to events is provided in the left column of the news feed, and individual events appear in the right column of your home page. New events appear in your news feed and indicating attendance will cause an event to appear on your wall.

The events feature does not function well as a calendar that tracks your personal schedule: it is intended to arrange activities that involve several people, and displays individual events in a list format. However, a link is provided to "export" events, which provides an URL that can be loaded into personal calendar programs, and a single event can be exported in the same manner.

Create an Event and Invite People to Come

Creating an event can be done by going to your events page (from the left-rail link) and clocking the "create an event" button. The dialog that launches is straightforward: start and end times, event name, location, description, and a list of people to invite.

A private event can be created that is only shown to certain individuals. Not only does this mean that only invited guests may respond, but also limits the visibility of all information about the event to those who are invited. Once you have created the event, you can indicate whether people who have been invited may share the event with others (guests can invite other guests).

A public event is open for anyone to view or respond, and can be found in the FB search engine. However, a "public" event will not be pushed to the news feed of every user, just those of your friends, and it is visible on your wall, but is not otherwise pushed or promoted to the general public.

Once an event is created, an event page will be set up that provides more controls and the ability to enter more information, including a discussion thread (similar to a wall) to which posts can be made and a list of people who have been invited or indicated they are attending, maybe attending, or not attending.

Facebook events can be sent to non-users by entering an e-mail address. However, they are limited to viewing the event page (via a link provided in the message) and sending an RSVP. Unless they create a FB account, they will not be able to interact with other attendees.

There is no limit on the number of people you can invite, as an event can be public, but there are some limits on invitations: a single invitation is limited to 100 people, and while you can send multiple invitations, FB will only track up to 300 people who have been invited but not yet responded to the invitation. (EN: I think these limits have been increased or removed since the book was written - I've seen events with several hundred pending initiations.)

Manage Your Event

After creating an event an sending invitations, you may need to change details such as dates, times, or locations. An affordance is provided to edit the event from its main page, enabling you to do so, and notifications will be sent automatically. You may also cancel an event, which enables you to send a note explaining the cancellation.

(EN: The author provides scant detail - how will these notifications go out, will the event update be noted in the news feed, etc. is undisclosed.)

You can also "co-host" an event by designating other FB users as administrators, who will also have the ability to edit the event with the same privileges as the person who created it. Co-host status can also be revoked at a later time.

While the details of an event can be altered, the name of the event is locked after there have been confirmed guests.

Administrators also have control over the event's wall, to remove any posts that they do not want to be associated to the event.

RSVP to an Event

When invited to an event, you may respond to indicate that you are attending, not attending, or maybe attending. This can be done from the event announcement or the event page, and your attendance status can be changed at any time afterward.

Your response status does not determine your access to the event - even if you respond that you are not attending, the event will remain on your list unless you opt to remove it (EN: This is a bit awkward, but you view the list, click "respond" and a link to "remove" is at the bottom left.)

As an attendee, you can view event information, see the responses of other invited guests (attending, not, maybe, pending), and add items to the event's "wall" that can include comments, links, photos, and videos. But as noted earlier, the event administrator(s) may remove/hide posts from the wall.

Past Events

(EN: The author doesn't mention this, but once the end date of an event has passed, it is removed from the list of events. There is a link to "past events" at the bottom that retrieves a list and includes links to event pages - but because this is so well buried in the site, it doesn't function well as a place for post-event conversation.)

Birthday Events

Facebook treats birthdays as "events" and lists them on this page, even if there is not an actual gathering in a given place and a given time. However, the fit is a bit awkward: the link to "birthdays" is at the bottom of the events page, and retrieves a list of birthdays that begins with the current month.

Aside of appearing discreetly on the event list, an announcement appears in the news feed on a person's birthday, and others may comment to send a birthday greeting. (EN: Where FB collects other dates, such as wedding anniversaries, they presently get no such treatment.)

Notifying others of your own birthday is done through the profile. By default, it is shown and shared, and you can change it to show full date of birth (which discloses your age), month and year only, or not at all. You can also edit the privacy settings to indicate which people may see your birthday.