9: Using Facebook on a Mobile Phone

(EN: Repeating this notice at the head of each chapter: the specific details of this book are likely outdated, but the core concepts of social networking are likely timeless.)

In considering the use of mobile devices to access Facebook, the author suggests that users who are "hooked" on it and "can't get enough" may wish to have access from a mobile device that enables them to constantly check into the site, and that there are numerous applications for doing so. (EN: And while this seems rather condescending, I'm inclined to agree that a person who feels the need to be constantly connected ought to consider whether that level of obsession is healthy.)

The degree of capabilities that are available to mobile users depends largely on their mobile device itself: there's only so much that can be done with a basic cell phone, and having a high-end "smart" phone provides a richer array of functions. (EN: This is essentially true, but the rhetoric here seems to suggest the device is to blame for limited capabilities when, in truth, it is what the developers of such apps have been willing to support, or the designers have assumed the user might want to do, rather than anything device-specific that limits interaction.)

Text Messaging

A limited number of FB features can be accessed by a cell phone that has no data plan, but has text messaging capabilities.

Prior to using them, you must register your device with the site so that it will be recognized: there is a "Mobile" option in account settings where you can enter a phone number. FB will send a confirmation code to the device, which you must key into the Web site.

Once this is done, FB will recognize your phone as being authorized to access your account - provided that your carrier is supported (many of the larger networks are). Another carrier-specific warning is that any charges for sending/receiving text messages will apply, which is a consequence of your cellular account and not Facebook.

The next step is to adjust the settings for FB text messaging, indicating what announcements you wish to receive: a text message can be sent when a message is received, someone pokes you, and many more options. (EN: detail here is scant, and there is no indication of the default settings, so users must investigate for themselves)

If you find that you are getting too many messages from FB, you can text "off" to FB and it will disable messages. Then, you can return to your computer to adjust the settings before re-enabling them.

The author provides a list of some of the FB functions that are supported via SMS: Updating status, sending and receiving messages, searching for people, retrieving contact information, checking events, posting to your wall, poking or being poked, etc.


(EN: The author completely overlooks the use of email as a method of accessing FB functions via a mobile device. Email capabilities are mentioned in passing throughout the book, but never comprehensively or in much detail. Perhaps this chapter on mobile isn't the appropriate place to do so, as mobile email is no different than email from a computer, but it's a bit disappointing the author doesn't provide a consolidated section of email at all.)

Mobile Web

Mobile devices with a built-in Web browser can access the full Facebook site, but because Web sites are not designed for use on a computer rather than a mobile device, it may be a bit clumsy (FB is not alone in this, it's true of all sites).

Facebook offers two options designed specifically for mobile devices: m.facebook.com (for mobile in general) and touch.facebook.com (for touch-screen devices)

(EN: I've noticed that FB automatically redirects me to a mobile version of their site, and does not allow me to access the full version, when I attempt to log in on a mobile device. Rather annoying.)

As with text messaging, FB does not charge users for accessing its mobile sites, but data charges from a cellular carrier will apply, and some of the features will be a bit wonky due to the particular device and carrier.

Some of the features supported on the mobile versions of FB include: posting to your wall, updating status, commenting on posts, viewing and responding to events, finding and adding friends, managing notifications, uploading photos, and changing settings.

The author calls out is the use of FB as a mobile address book or phone directory, which enables you to retrieve contact information for your FB friends

The author also calls attention to the use of mobile as a platform for uploading photos, which is highly useful given that most mobile devices have built-in cameras.


There are an array of third-party applications that can be downloaded to a smart phone that provide access to certain features of FB - and while some of these have greater ease of use because they are custom-built to do specific things, FB itself provides general-purpose apps.

The author goes into granular detail about apps for some of the more popular smart phones (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and a few oddballs), but I'm skipping the details because it's of questionable accuracy and likely to be highly perishable as mobile apps are in a state of rapid evolution.

Suffice to say that each app is its own animal, and the experience is highly inconsistent in the features it offers and the way in which they are accessed. More accurate and current details can easily be retrieved for a specific device by running a web search for "Using Facebook on [Device]"