For total beginners: how to set up a Facebook account
Have you held out from Facebook until now but are beginning to see more and more friends using it? You're not alone. The latest figures show that a third of Irish adults do not have any kind of social media presence. But they also show of those who do, Facebook is the most-used service by far. What's more, older people are now its fastest-growing user base in Ireland. So if you're over a certain age, it's a sure thing that some of your friends - and most of your younger family members - are using Facebook to keep in touch with photos and messages. But where do you start?
How to create a Facebook account
Starting on Facebook is very straightforward. If you're using a PC or laptop, go to Facebook.com where you'll see the sign-up details on the main page. This comprises your name, email or phone number, birthday and a password you'll keep. On a phone or tablet, the easiest way is to download the free Facebook app from the phone's app store, although you can follow the same process as the PC method through the phone's web browser (such as Safari on an iPhone). And that's it - you're now signed up to Facebook.
How to find friends and family
When you first sign up, Facebook helps you to find people you probably already know. It does this by using your email address to look for other Facebook users who have interacted with you over email (using their email address to identify them). If you use email even occasionally, this step should immediately yield several people you might want to connect to. If it doesn't, you can perform a search for people by simply typing in the name of someone in the search box at the top of the Facebook page (or phone app). Once you've identified someone you want to connect to, click or tap the little button that says 'add friend'. This will send them a 'friend request' and if they accept it, you will start to see the updates or photos they post in your Facebook 'feed' (which is the equivalent to your own Facebook home page). If they don't accept your friend request, you can still look up some of their basic details and posted photos unless they have applied strict privacy controls to their account.
How to post a photo
Posting a photo on Facebook is fairly straightforward, but you must have the photo already on your computer, phone or tablet. At the top of the Facebook page click 'add photos/video' (on a phone it's just a 'photo' button). It will then open up your PC's photo folder or phone's photo storage area. On a PC, just double-click the photo you want to post or, on a phone, tap it and press 'done'. Facebook then asks whether you want to add any text and then posts it to your Timeline feed. All your Facebook friends can now see it, as well as other Facebook users (unless you apply strict privacy settings).
The absolute basics about privacy
Many people like having their Facebook profile generally visible, as it allows old friends to come across them and reconnect. But this isn't for everyone and some prefer to have their Facebook account visible only to close family or friends. If this is you, you need to apply strict privacy rules. But don't worry, it's fairly easy to do. In 'settings' (it's under the little upside-down triangle at the top right of the Facebook page if you're using a PC or behind the 'more' button on the bottom right corner of a phone's Facebook app), choose 'privacy'. You can then change your audience from 'public' to 'friends'. There are further advanced options (such as allocating some friends as 'close friends' or 'family'), but that's the basic method.
How to send someone on Facebook a private message
One of the advantages of being 'friends' with someone is that you can send them private messages, not unlike emails. On a computer, click the speech bubble icon at the top of the page and then 'send a new message'. This will open a pop-up box and you can enter the name of the person you want to message. On a phone it's a little more complicated: Facebook now asks you to download a separate free app ('Facebook Messenger') to use this messaging facility.