Signing up for Facebook is fairly simple, and the Web site will walk you through the steps. It does, however, require users to be at least 13 years old, and the company encourages members to use their real names. The next step after the sign-up page is a security check page. This will ask you to look at a skewed image of letters and ask you to type them into a box. This is called a CAPTCHA test, and it ensures that you are a real person, rather than a computer program designed to infiltrate a Web site and load it with spam.
After you pass the CAPTCHA test, Facebook will ask you to find people you know by plugging in your e-mail address and e-mail password. This feature will find who among your e-mail contacts has a Facebook profile and suggest friends for you to add. Feel free to skip this step entirely if you feel uncomfortable giving away your e-mail password. Instead, it will give you the option to search for people you know individually by typing their names into the search bar, although this is more time-consuming.
At this point, you can also start adding things to your profile, including a photo of yourself, your employment and education information, relationship status, interests, and so on. Again, don't feel compelled to share any information that you don't want others knowing. When you edit your profile, you can even opt out of displaying your birthday and your sex.
Once you establish what and with whom you want to share information, you're all set. Explore the other features and uses of Facebook, like posting a status update, uploading photos from your recent vacation, and links to interesting Web sites or articles you find that you want your friends to know about. From the left menu bar under "Events," you can see which events you've been invited to, or create your own event and invite others. If you like, you can also explore applications (or "apps"), like Scrabble and FarmVille. But apps request access to your personal data, so don't use them if you feel uncomfortable with this.
Most members agree that the best use of Facebook is the ability to keep up with friends while building contacts and relationships.