What is Facebook?

Lynn Wright / 24 March 2016

Keep in touch with family and friends online with Facebook, and discover new friends with shared interests and hobbies. Learn about Facebook, how to use Facebook and how to set up a Facebook profile.



Facebook is the world’s most popular social networking site, providing a free way to keep in touch with your friends and family online. Started by US college student Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, it now has 1.5 billion users around the world.

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Why should I use Facebook?

With so many ways to connect to others online – from email to instant messaging – you may wonder what’s so special about Facebook. Facebook’s appeal lies its ability to easily share the same information with all your family and friends at the same time.

You can post updates on Facebook about what you’re doing, comment on things that interest you, and share content, such as photos, videos and links to websites for friends and family to see. You can view other people’s posts and profiles, join online groups, plan events, chat with others online, play games and more.

You can use Facebook on a computer, tablet or smartphone. Most people use Facebook on their iPhone, Android or Windows smartphone, as the Facebook app makes it easy to keep in touch while on the go.

Read our guide to staying safe on social media.

How do I get started with Facebook?

Before you can use Facebook, you must first create a free Facebook account. All you need for this is your email address. 

Once signed up, you can click the Find Friends button. This allows Facebook to access your email contacts list to look for people you know who are already on Facebook. You can also click 'Skip this step' to add friends later.

Once signed up, you create a Facebook profile that includes information about you that your friends will be able to see. You can add details about where you live, where you went to school and your work details. 

You can add a photo of yourself to your Facebook profile by uploading one from your computer or by taking a new one with your webcam.

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TIP

Be careful when sharing personal information on Facebook. Think about what you add to your profile and what you post in general. 

Adding too much personal information ­­– such as your date of birth, marital status, home town and workplace – could leave you vulnerable to online scams and identity theft.

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How do I use Facebook?

With your account set up, you can start exploring different parts of Facebook, including your homepage and Timeline. 

You’ll see your homepage each time you log into Facebook, it’s a News Feed that shows all the things your friends have shared on Facebook.

Also known as your profile page, your Timeline is where you share information about yourself. Posts you make appear here, along with those your friends post to your Timeline.

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Understanding Facebook privacy

Facebook aims to be more open than traditional online communication methods, such as email where information is restricted to just the recipient. If you choose to share publicly – usually the default setting – then anyone with a Facebook account can view your information, posts, and activity.

Facebook has privacy tools so you can control exactly who sees your information. Take time to learn about Facebook’s privacy settings in the Help section of its website. 

Even with privacy settings in place, remember what you post may still be viewable by a wider group of people than you anticipate, such as friends of friends. 

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.