I've joined. Now what?

Be prepared to be disappointed. Facebook's real value comes over time. Initial impressions can be underwhelming. It takes time to appreciate its value. Get into the habit of visiting Facebook regularly. You don't have to spend much time on the site, but spending a few minutes every day is good. Your first job is to build up your network of friends. Tell people that you have joined Facebook and ask them to "friend you". Set-up Facebook on your mobile devices.Then set-up your profile...

What do I include in my profile?

As much or as little as you like. It is probably best to start small and grow later. Begin with basic information, and add to it as you become more comfortable with Facebook. You will have already provided basic information when you signed up to Facebook. Add as much or as little as you like. Be sure to provide a photo. A photo of you. Not your baby. Not your cat. Not you with your friends. Just you. Fully clothed and sober.

What about privacy?

What about it? You are not that important. The Facebook default settings are fine to start with. You can change them once you know what you're doing. But if you are really concerned about this, be sure to add "Narcissist" to your profile.

How do I find friends?

They will find you. If you tell people that you have joined Facebook they will send you "friend requests". Or you can search for people. Begin with your family and (real) friends. You can search for people using their names or their e-mail addresses or other information you know about them. Once you have added a few friends, they will suggest friends to you. In time, you should build up a large number of friends. It takes time. Be patient.

Who should I friend?

You can use Facebook in one of three ways: (1) for family and friends; (2) for friends and acquaintances; or (3) for everyone you meet. It's probably best to begin with option (1) and then grow your network of friends. Do not friend strangers, even if you receive a request. When you friend a person, or they friend you, they will see your status updates, photos and other information. You will see the same stuff about them. If you're not sure about a friend request, don't accept it.

What happens when I decline a friend request?

Nothing. Facebook does not tell the person that you have declined their request. But, if they really care, they can work it out. For one thing, they will not receive a notification to tell them that you have accepted (they receive nothing) and, obviously, you are not added to their list of friends so they can work it out. Don't ignore friend requests. Accept them or decline them. Some people ignore the requests in the hope that they will magically disappear. They won't. Deal with them.

Should I friend my boss/mum/ex-boyfriend?

That depends on the relationship with your boss/mum/ex-boyfriend, and how you plan to use Facebook. Given that Facebook is a social network, most people do friend their mums. "Friending" your ex-boyfriend depends on your current relationship with him. Your boss is trickier. If you consider him/her your friend as well as your boss then friend them. Otherwise, it might be best not to. If you think that this might cause offence, you can friend your boss but hide all of your updates from him/her. Of course, this advice does not apply if you consider Facebook a sex-toy to arrange your latest drink- and drug-fueled adventure. Your mum and ex-boyfriend are unlikely to want to know this.

What can I use Facebook for?

Facebook is a great way of keeping up-to-date with what your family and friends are doing. That's its real purpose. But you can also use it to share photos, ask questions, organise events, remember birthdays, play games, and discuss news. It's also a good communication tool, with excellent messaging facilities. Its value grows over time. Initially it can seem to be a waste of time but, as your network grows, it becomes a great way of keeping in touch with family and friends.

Is Facebook evil?

No. It's not evil. And it's not good either. It's what you make it. Disliking Facebook is like disliking paper. Facebook is a communication tool.

What should I post?

Nothing, until you have a few friends. Facebook only works when you have a network of friends. But you don't have to wait until you have 100 friends. Your first post is simple: "Hello world". That will announce your presence on Facebook. It is best to read more and write less at the beginning. You can participate in Facebook without posting messages. You can "Like" other people's messages or add comments to their updates.

When you write your own status updates avoid posts such as: "I am going to bed". And don't post on a single issue, no matter how important it is to you. Your friends know that you are an Born Again Christian/Anarchist/Feminist/Marxist. But, please, change the tune now and again. That goes for the "I-never-post-anything-serious-on-Facebook" brigade too. Really? And you're an adult? Please don't use one of those status generators, which supposedly generate "funny" status updates. They don't. If you really have nothing of your own to say, stay off Facebook.

Who cares what I think?

Almost no-one. Notice the "almost" in that sentence. Your life is more interesting to your family and friends than you think. The fact that you plan on going away at the weekend will not interest many people but it might interest your friends.

Is it OK to post photos of my friends/kids/wife?

No. Your friends are all sex offenders. Of course it is. But be sensitive about the photos you share. What might be "funny" to you, might not be so funny to the mother of your "hilarious" friend. If you're not sure if you should post a particular photo, you probably shouldn't.

How do I lose friends?

Write boring status updates. Or post too many status updates. Or post about the same thing. Or be rude. Or post irritating updates. Or cliche'd status updates. Less is more on Facebook. Don't over-share. That doesn't mean you have to wait until something momentous happens before posting a message, but 10 updates every day is sure to drive people away. Your friends will be interested in lots of mundane things about you. So, "Going to the movies" is OK. "Going to sleep" is not. And just because you're in the mood for music doesn't mean your friends want to share your top 20 Madonna tunes. Don't ask your friends to copy and paste status updates about cancer or mental illness or other causes. It's lazy and pointless and often a scam. If you really care, make a donation.

Is it OK to like products or promotions?

No. Don't post shit like this. If you really want to win a holiday home in Hawaii buy a lottery ticket. You are trading your one-in-a-million chance of winning something with your one-in-one chance of polluting every friend's feed with your hopeless crap. See also "How do I lose friends?".

How do I get rid of friends?

Your News Feed will list every status update from every friend. If you want rid of the updates from specific friends you can do one of two things. You can remove them from your list of friends or you can hide their updates. If you "de-friend" someone, they are not told but you will be removed from their list of friends (and them from yours). So, if they check their friend list, they will know that you have de-friended them. A more discrete way of getting rid of status updates is to simply hide their updates. You can hide a single update or all of their updates. This will prevent you from seeing their updates but they will continue to see yours, and you will continue to appear in their list of friends. You can "unhide" their updates if you change your mind.

How public is Facebook?

Very. Although only your friends can see your status updates and photos, once you click "send" you lose control of whatever it is you sent. And you can't "un-send" a message. Once it's gone, it's gone. So don't post anything that you are not willing to write on a post-it and stick to your forehead. Facebook provides "lists" that you can use to post messages to specific groups of friends. But that's a dangerous strategy since it can lead to false confidence that you can post what you like.

What is my Facebook e-mail address?

Everyone on Facebook has an e-mail address. It is normally firstname.second@facebook.com. To set up a @facebook.com address, go to yourMessages view and click the "Claim your Facebook email" link. Your email address will match your public username, for example:

Profile: facebook.com/ username
Email: username @facebook.com

If you don’t have a username yet, you can choose one when you create your email address. Once you set-up Facebook e-mail, people can use it to contact you using their standard e-mail program. These messages will appear in your list of Personal Messages (PMs) in Facebook, from where you can reply to them and the person will receive the reply in their e-mail inbox. It's a convenient way of quickly contacting someone who spends more time in Facebook than e-mail.

I have been de-friended. Should I be offended?

No. You will have been defriended for a good reason or a bad reason. Either way, you can't do anything about it. Being defriended because you're a pain-in-the-ass is a problem (for you) but being defriended by a racist/religious/ignorant bigot should be a badge of honor.

What is Facebook etiquette?

Facebook etiquette is a few simple, informal guidelines that most people follow when they use Facebook.

Don't lurk. Lurking means visiting the site but never contributing anything. Even if you don't want to share status updates, you can "Like" the contributions of other people or comment on their updates. But visiting the site and never contributing anything means that you are not adding any value to the network.

Participate. You don't have to post lots of updates to participate in Facebook. You can "Like" the updates from other people. You can comment on their messages. You can share their updates.

Don't diet and binge. Don't disappear for months and then suddenly re-appear and produce torrents of updates before disappearing again. Little and often is best.

Don't argue. Don't argue with people on Facebook. It bores people. Say your piece - maybe once, maybe twice - no more. If you can backup your claims then do so. It's the Internet. You can post links. Avoid ad hominem arguments.

Acknowledge your friends. If you see something you want to share with your friends, "Share it" (there's a button). Don't just copy the link and post it as your own.

Don't be dumb. Facebook is public. Your friends can share your posts with their friends. You lose control of whatever you post the second you click "Post". Save your opinion about your boss until you don't need a paycheck.