top of page

Facebook 101: Understanding the Basics

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

A senior man smiling and using a computer.

To start off on an easy note, Facebook is a social networking site that was created in 2004 and was originally used by Harvard students. Since being opened to the public in 2006, it has now gained over 3 billion users worldwide. The platform's main goal is to connect friends, families, and strangers within the online world. With a profile on Facebook, its users can create status updates and share photos, videos, posts you find funny or informational, as well as, interact with friends through liking, commenting or sharing their Facebook posts. This article will share more insight on what you should know about the free networking site.

Starting on Facebook…

In order to sign-up to use Facebook and all its features you must have an accessible email account or phone number.

Tip: Email may be easier to use in case you lose your phone or change your number in the future.

The signing-up process on a computer...

1) Within your browser’s search bar, search:

2) Click “Create new account''. Enter your first and last name as this helps friends and family find you on Facebook, an email or phone number that you can easily access, a password that is special to you, your birthday, and your gender. Then, click “Sign up”.

3) Enter the special code. Shortly after clicking “Sign Up” a special code will be sent to your email or phone number that you must enter in order to verify that it is in fact you.

4) Next, Facebook will ask you “Allow the use of cookies by Facebook?”. You can either agree or deny this action. This “cookies” feature is only being used by Facebook so they can show you sponsored ads based on your interests. If you click deny, that will not stop you from receiving sponsored ads, rather you will receive ads that may not be of great interest to you!

5) Finally, you’ll be directed to your home page where you can start your journey creating memories and staying connected with friends and family!

The Navigation Bar

Upon initial login to the Facebook website, you'll be directed to your homepage, featuring the primary navigation bar situated at the top. This persistent navigation bar remains accessible regardless of the page you navigate to, provided you are scrolled to the page's top. Now, let's delve into the features encapsulated within the navigation bar, exploring them from left to right.

Firstly, you'll notice a blue "f" Facebook icon, serving as a convenient link to your home page. Simply clicking on this icon will swiftly redirect you back to your main Facebook hub.

Next, you can find the search bar. It functions as an extensive search engine within the platform, enabling you to quickly discover and connect with various elements across the Facebook community. Whether you're looking for friends, groups, businesses, videos, or any other type of content, simply enter your query in the search bar.

The Home Page (House Icon)

Your Facebook home page is the first thing you see when you log in. It's a customized feed of posts, photos, and updates from your friends, family, and pages or businesses you follow. Facebook uses an algorithm, or personalized calculations, to show you content it thinks you'll find interesting based on your interactions and preferences. You can also update your status directly from your home page (as well as various other locations on the website) using the "What's on your mind?" box. See your homepage as your main hub of Facebook.

Friends (Characters of Two People)

Within the “Friends” tab, you are able to view and respond to friend requests, organize your current friends list, and explore friend suggestions. Additionally, the section provides a glimpse of friends' upcoming birthdays. It's a central hub for all friend-related interactions and activities on the platform.

Videos (Computer Screen Icon with Play Button)

This section provides you with a personalized feed of videos, reels (short videos), live broadcasting, and Facebook original shows based on your interests, the pages they follow, and the content shared by your friends. You are able to explore trending and recommended videos, as well as content from pages you’re subscribed to. Additionally, the "Videos" tab includes tools for managing and organizing saved videos, as well as options for creating and sharing video content.

Marketplace (Storefront Icon)

The Facebook Marketplace tab offers a dedicated platform for buying and selling goods within your local Facebook community. It serves as a virtual marketplace where users can discover, browse, and list items for sale, ranging from electronics to clothing. The feature typically includes categories, local listings, and a search function for easy navigation. Users can communicate with potential buyers or sellers through integrated messaging, and transactions often take place locally. The Facebook Marketplace aims to connect users within their geographical proximity, fostering community-based commerce.

Groups (Circle Icon with a Character Within)

You can join, create, and engage in various interest-based communities within this tab. Users can find and participate in groups related to hobbies, professional interests, local communities, or any shared passion. Within groups, members can post content, discuss topics, organize events, and connect with like-minded individuals. The "Groups" tab offers a personalized feed of group activity and recommendations based on user interests and existing connections. It acts as a central hub for fostering niche communities within the broader Facebook platform.

Examples of Groups that may spark your interest include: Dementia/Alzheimer’s Family Caregiver Support, Life with Parkinson’s, and Caregiver Support Group + more groups dedicated to specific communities.

Menu (Circular icon with 9 little circles within)

Within this tab, you’ll find shortcuts to various sections of the website, such as Pages, Events, Marketplace, and more. It includes links to user settings, privacy controls, and help and support options. Additionally, the "Menu" tab houses features like Gaming, COVID-19 Information Center, and other tools that enhance the overall user experience.

Messenger (Circular icon with a chat bubble and lightning bolt within)

You can start or revive a private conversation with your friends here! It’s another way of staying connected with friends or family. Messenger even gives you the option to video chat, audio call, share photos or videos privately, and a lot more!

Notifications (Circular icon with a bell within)

Simply put, this is where you get up-to-date and chronological alerts of when people interact with your posts, statuses, likes, or comments.

Account (your profile photo)

Finally, if you click on your profile picture, this will open up a drop-down menu where you are able to access your profile, settings, receive help and support, plus more!

All About Your Facebook Wall…

Your Facebook wall is like your personal timeline or diary on the platform. It displays your posts, status updates, and interactions with others. When you post something, it appears on your wall, and your friends can see it in their News Feed. You can also revisit your past posts and memories by scrolling down your wall. Keep in mind that the privacy settings you choose for your posts will determine who can see them. You can access your wall simply by clicking on your profile picture or your name at the top right side of the Facebook page once you sign into your account.

Here are key elements you would find on a Facebook profile:

Profile Picture and Cover Photo – You can upload a meaningful profile picture and a cover photo to personalize the visual appearance of your profile.

Timeline/Wall – This is the central feed on your individual profile where you can post status updates, photos, videos, and other content. Additionally, friends can post on your “wall” a special message wishing you a happy birthday and more. Just know this is public!

About Section – You can provide personal information such as work and education history, current city, hometown, relationship status, and more.

Friends List – The number of friends and a list of mutual friends are often displayed on the profile. You are able to make this section semi-private.

Photos and Albums – You are able to organize and share photos in albums, showcasing various life events and experiences.

Featured and Pinned Posts – You have the option to highlight specific posts on your timeline to showcase important updates or content.

Activity Log – A private record of your activity on Facebook, allowing you to review and manage your posts, likes, and other interactions.

Intro – A brief section where you can share additional details about yourself, such as interests, quotes, or a short bio.

Followers – Depending on your privacy settings, you may see a follower count, representing people who are interested in your public updates.

Interaction Features…

Likes – If you find content you enjoy and you want to signal to the user you like it then click the “Like” button under the post. You can also hover over the “Like” button to choose an expressive emoji.

Comments – If you would like to show verbal appreciation or express an opinion on the content you have come across, you can simply click the “Comment” button under the post.

Share – If you enjoyed the content enough that you believe it could be of great interest to your friends or family and would like to share it, there is a “Share” button for that!

Messenger – As mentioned previously, you have the option to spark up a conversation privately within “Messenger”.

Important information to know…

Like & Comments – Both likes and comments can be easily seen by other Facebook users, so be cautious of what you put out there for others to see!

Posts – Just like many other social networking sites, the information provided by user’s accounts may not be accurate. It is important that you cross-check information if you are interested in obtaining factual information.

This is only scraping the tip of the iceberg of what features Facebook has to offer for its users. If you are interested in going in-depth, check out local senior centers for programs that will teach you more about Facebook and how to use the website or app. Coming up next is Twitter 101: Understanding the Basics. Stay tuned to find out what Twitter has to offer in the coming weeks.


Discover more helpful articles dedicated for seniors looking to learn: here! Or, find your next favorite recipe: here!

6 views0 comments


bottom of page