How to set up a Facebook account

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Facebook: Your New Obsession?
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Want an easy way to keep up with family and friends and share pictures and updat

It started as a tool for college students, but now it seems everyone has a Facebook page. You can be sure that when you sign up, you'll find plenty of friends and family waiting. Here's how you do it in just a few simple steps.

1. Create an account.
Go to Facebook and sign up. You'll just be asked for your name, email address, and birthday. Don't worry, that information will not be made public unless you want it to.

2. Find your friends
Facebook will probably have some suggestions for you, and you can also look for yourself. You can search your email contacts or just look for people by name or email address. Using email may save you time, since there are typically lots of people on the site that have the same name. You can also become a fan of musicians, actors, tv shows, or countless other people and things by searching for their fan pages.

3. Fill in your profile.
Facebook will prompt you as you go, and you can add as much or little information as you like. You'll also be able to decide how much people can see, and even allow some but not others to see certain information.

4. Choose a picture.
Pick a profile picture to upload to your Facebook page from your own computer. This is what friends will see when you post something or when visiting your profile.

5. Confirm your account and settings.
Facebook will send you an email to confirm your account. Click on the link there and then go to Facebook's settings page. Click on each option there to decide who can see your page and set up other options for your account.

6. Want fans?
Own a business? Work in sales? You can set up your own business or brand fan page.

That's all there is to it! Your laptop or netbook will connect you to a whole new social experience -- the world of social media -- and over 400 million users of Facebook.

Facebook has a lot to offer, and can be a lot of fun! Now that you have an account, here are some things to explore, from photos to events to news from your friends.

1. The news feed
When you log in, your home page will show you recent posts by all your friends. You can also click on your own profile and have a look at your "wall." That's where posts and messages sent just to you will pop up. You can write on someone else's wall by visiting his/her profile, and you'll also find an option to send a private message.

2. Games/Applications
Facebook has more to offer than just social networking. A quick search or a look at friends' profiles will show you some of the many games and applications available for your entertainment. Mafia Wars, Farmville, and Li'l' Green Patch are just three of the more popular games. Online versions of traditional games such as Boggle and Scrabble are also available, and you can play against a computer or with old and new friends all over the world. Just type the name of a game into the search bar at the top of the page. Also available are applications like Visual Bookshelf (which lets you share what you're reading with friends) and countless others. You'll have lots of fun finding them and trying them out.

3. Picture albums
One of Facebook's most popular features, picture albums are just that: an online version of the old-fashioned picture album. You can post pictures and comment on those posted by friends. Divide your photos into as many albums as you like, and organize them by date, by theme, or whatever suits you!

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