How to Set up Facebook

Use this Facebook tutorial to navigate the social network

New to Facebook or interested in trying it out? This step-by-step tutorial explains the basics of how Facebook works and offers key points that every new Facebook user should know.

Facebook Basics

Facebook is the internet's most widely used social network, with nearly three billion people using it to connect with friends and family, as well as meet new people. Its mission is to make the world more open and connected by connecting people and facilitating communication between them.

Facebook Basics

People use Facebook to create personal profiles, add other users as Facebook friends, and share information with them. How Facebook works can be mysterious to new users, but it's all about communication, so learning the network's core communication tools is essential.

After signing up and adding friends, you can communicate with some or all of your Facebook friends by sending private, semi-private, or public messages. Messages can take the form of a status update (also called a post), a private Facebook Messenger message, a comment about or reply to a friend's post or status, or a click of the Like button to show support for a friend's update or a company's Facebook page.

If you're not a big fan of seeing likes on your posts or the posts in your News Feed, Facebook introduced more controls in May 2021. You can stop seeing any like or view counts by adjusting your settings. In the Facebook app, tap Settings & Privacy > Settings > News Feed Settings and select Reaction Counts. Opt to turn off reaction counts for your posts or every post you see. You can also hide reactions on a per-post basis using the three-dot menu.

Once you learn about Facebook, you can share all kinds of content, including photos, videos, music, news articles, and more. You can also join Facebook Groups to communicate with like-minded people whom you otherwise might not know. After growing familiar with how Facebook works, you can use special Facebook applications to plan events, play games, and engage in other activities.

New Facebook Account Setup

The first step is to sign up and create a new Facebook account. Go to from any web browser, select Create New Account, and fill out the form. Enter your real first and last name along with your email address. Select Sign Up at the bottom when you're done.

Facebook Sign Up

Facebook sends a message to the email address you provided with a link asking you to confirm your email address. You'll need to do this to gain full access to Facebook's features.

Your Facebook Timeline and Profile

After signing up for Facebook, skip the next part where it asks to import your email contacts to build your friend list. You can do that later. First, fill out your Facebook profile before you connect with friends, so they have something to see when you send them a friend request.

Facebook Basics

Facebook calls its profile area your Timeline because it arranges your life in chronological order and displays a running list of your activities on Facebook. A large horizontal banner image appears at the top of the Timeline. Facebook calls this banner your cover photo. You can change your cover photo at any time.

Inset below your cover photo is an area reserved for a small, round profile picture of you. You can upload the image of your choice; until you do, a shadowy avatar appears.

Your Profile page is also where you upload basic biographical information about yourself like education, work, hobbies, interests. Relationship status is a big deal on Facebook, though you don't have to publicize your relationship status if you don't feel like it.

This Timeline and profile area is where other people go to check you out on Facebook. It's also where you can check out your friends because each of them has a Timeline and profile page.

Find and Connect With Friends on Facebook

After filling out your profile, add friends by sending them a friend request via an internal Facebook message or to their email address if you know it. When they accept your friend request, their name and a link to their profile and Timeline page appears on your list of Facebook friends.

Facebook offers various ways to find friends, including a scan of your existing email contact list if you grant access to your email account.

Facebook Friend Suggestions

Searching for individuals by name is another option, so you can look for people you know on Facebook. When you have a few friends and have liked some companies, organizations, comments, or products, Facebook's automated friend recommendation tool shows you links to people you may know. If you recognize their face when their profile image appears on your Facebook page, click the link to send them a friend request.

Organize Your Facebook Friends

When you have a lot of friend connections, add friends to a Friend List, so you can send different types of messages to different groups.

You can hide Facebook friends whose messages you don't want to see. The hide feature allows you to maintain your Facebook friendship with someone while keeping their messages from cluttering up your daily stream of Facebook updates.

Facebook News Feed

When you sign in, you're shown a home page containing a personalized stream of information that Facebook calls the news feed or stream. It's full of information posted by your friends and the groups or organizations you follow.

The news feed appears in the middle column of your homepage. You can return to your homepage by selecting the Profile icon indicated by your name in the upper-left and right corners.

Facebook News Feed

Your news feed shows posts or status updates that your friends posted to the network, typically shown only to their Facebook friends. Your feed can include more than text messages. It can also contain photos, videos, and links to all sorts of content and articles.

Facebook Stories

Stories is Facebook's name for a different stream of information about your friends. Instead of status updates or posts, Stories shows your friends' published Stories, just like on Instagram and Snapchat.

Stories are usually a few seconds of video or still photos. You can create a Facebook story by selecting the Plus icon in the upper-right corner and then selecting Story.

Facebook Stories

Posts and Messenger

Communication is the heartbeat of Facebook (there's even a Facebook Portal device that allows you to share video communications with your friends) and takes place in various forms.

A post is a message or a bit of content that you share via the publishing box that says, "What's on your mind?" The publishing box appears at the top of your homepage and the Timeline page. Use posts to communicate your activities, post links to news stories, share photos and videos, and comment on life in general.

Facebook Create Post

Messenger is Facebook's instant messaging system. You can engage in real-time, private conversations with your Facebook friends who are online and signed in at the same time as you are.

It's easy to access Messenger from your Facebook profile page or News Feed. There's a New Message icon on the bottom right that looks like a pen and paper. Or, click the Messenger icon on the top right to access the Messenger interface and read new messages and send messages.

Facebook Messenger has a gear icon with settings you can change to determine who can see that you're online and when.

Facebook Messenger

How Facebook Privacy Works

You can control who sees your personal information and each bit of content that you post to the network. To control what others can see about you, adjust the privacy settings to match your comfort level.

There are also individual controls through the audience selector button below the publishing box. For example, you can change the viewing permission for posts on a case-by-case basis. You might want to let only your closest friends see your wild and ridiculous activities while keeping those posts hidden from your work colleagues and parents. You can also control whose updates you see on your Timeline by removing friends or snoozing their updates.

Facebook Privacy Settings

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