How Does Facebook Work? A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Facebook has become an integral part of everyday life for billions of people around the world. The social media platform allows users to connect with friends, family, colleagues, brands, and more. But if you’re new to Facebook, understanding how it works can be overwhelming.

This comprehensive beginner’s guide will walk you through everything you need to know about how Facebook works. We’ll cover creating an account, building your profile, connecting with others, posting content, privacy settings, ads, groups, events, and more. By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding of the core Facebook features and functionalities. Let’s get started!

Creating a Facebook Account

The first step in using Facebook is creating your account. Here’s how to sign up:

  1. Go to and click “Create New Account”
  2. Enter your name, email address or mobile number, password, birthday, and gender
  3. Click “Sign Up” and confirm your account via email or text message

Once your account is created, you can start personalizing your Facebook profile.

Setting Up Your Facebook Profile

Your profile is your digital identity on Facebook. It allows you to share information about yourself with others. Here are the key sections to fill out:

Profile Picture

  • Upload a clear photo of yourself as your profile picture so friends can recognize you

Cover Photo

  • The large banner photo at the top of your profile. Choose something representative of your personality or interests


  • Add details like your job, education, location, relationship status, etc. You can also link other social media profiles


  • Write a short bio describing yourself, what you do, your interests, etc.

Featured Photos and Videos

  • Highlight your favorite photos and videos here for visitors to scroll through

Finding Friends and Connecting with People

Next, start building up your network on Facebook:

  • Search for friends – Facebook will suggest friends based on contacts, schools, workplace and more. You can also manually search names.
  • Send friend requests – If you know someone with a Facebook account, you can send them a friend request. They’ll need to accept before you are connected.
  • Follow public figures, brands, groups – Expand your network by following public profiles without sending a friend request. Their public updates will show up in your News Feed.
  • Join Facebook Groups – Search for Groups focused on your interests or communities and join to connect with like-minded people.

News Feed: Your Customized Content Stream

Your Facebook News Feed is the constantly updating list of stories, posts, videos, photos and more from friends, family, groups, and pages you follow. It’s customized based on the things you engage with.

The algorithm determines what content to show you by analyzing your interactions. Engaging frequently with a friend’s posts means you’ll likely see more of their content. Unfollowing a brand page means you won’t see their posts as often.

You can further customize what you see in your News Feed using these settings:

  • Prioritize who to see first – Close friends, family, Groups etc.
  • Unfollow people, Pages, Groups – Temporarily hide their posts
  • See first – Get notified about posts from select people as soon as they share
  • Favorite Pages and Groups – See more of their posts higher up
  • Snooze keywords, people, pages – Hide their posts for 30 days

Stay updated on the most important things by regularly checking and engaging with your News Feed.

Posting Content and Interacting with Connections

Posting your own content and interacting with friends is a major part of the Facebook experience. Here are the ways you can actively use Facebook:

Creating Text Posts

Share your thoughts, life updates, news commentary, ask questions, and more by posting text-based status updates.

Posting Photos

Upload batches of photos to your timeline to share visual stories with friends. You can also post photos in Groups and to your friends’ timelines.

Going Live

Broadcast live video streams to your connections. Use Facebook Live for Q&As, events, tutorials, discussions and more.

Sharing Links

Paste in links to articles, websites, videos, shopping items and more. The preview will automatically generate a thumbnail and description.

Using Stickers and GIFs

Make your posts more visually engaging by adding stickers, animated GIFs, emoji reactions and more. Search for relevant stickers or use your camera to create your own custom stickers.

Commenting and Reacting

Leave comments on friends’ posts to further the conversation. Tap the Like button or use another React button like Love, Haha, Sad, Angry to interact as well.

Sharing Posts

Help good posts gain more exposure by sharing them either publicly to your own Timeline or privately via Messenger to individual friends.

Tagging Friends

When uploading photos or writing posts featuring your friends, tag them by name so the post appears on their profile too.

Checking Notifications

Stay on top of responses, mentions, new friend requests and other alerts by frequently checking your notifications icon.

Joining and Interacting with Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups make it easy to connect with specific communities around shared interests, affinities and real world connections. Here’s an overview:

  • Search for relevant Groups – Explore Groups focused on your hobbies, identity, profession and more. Look for active ones with engaged members.
  • Join a Group – Request to become a member of open groups. For closed groups, you’ll need approval from admins.
  • Introduce yourself – Post a comment in the Group introducing yourself to the community.
  • Follow the rules – Review the group rules and be considerate in your posts and comments.
  • Engage in discussions – Answer questions, post relevant content, and respond to other members’ posts. Offer value to the group.
  • Attend events – Some groups organize in-person meetups or virtual events. Attend them to get to know members.

Following topic-specific Groups is a great way to meet people, get advice from those with shared experiences and have thought-provoking discussions.

Using Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger is the platform’s instant messaging service. It allows you to text chat, video call, and share content privately with your Facebook friends and connections.

You can access Messenger directly from Facebook on desktop or mobile, or download the standalone Messenger app. Here are some of the key features:

  • Text chat with friends and group chats
  • Make voice and video calls
  • Share photos, videos, stickers, GIFs
  • See when friends are active and available
  • Send payments securely via Messenger
  • Use games, effects, filters, bots
  • Forward messages to other chats
  • Customize notifications and settings

Messenger makes it easy to have real-time private conversations with the people in your Facebook network.

Understanding Facebook Ads

Facebook displays ads within the News Feed and column alongside it based on your interests and activity on Facebook. Brands pay to promote their ads to specific target audiences. Here’s what you need to know about Facebook ads:

  • You’ll see ads matched to your interests based on activity like pages you’ve liked and posts you’ve engaged with.
  • Clicking on an ad helps the advertiser understand if it’s effective. But beware of false or misleading claims.
  • Advertisers do not have access to your individual profile and private data. Your identity and information is kept anonymous.
  • You can adjust ad interests and settings under Ad Preferences. Limit data used to show ads or opt-out of certain categories.
  • Report offensive, inappropriate or misleading ads by clicking on the three dots in the top right corner and selecting “Report Ad.”
  • Some ads may promote fake news or disinformation. Always fact check bold claims against trusted sources.

In most cases ads are harmless and often relevant to your interests. But be alert in case any seem suspicious or propagandist.

Managing Your Privacy Settings and Tools

Facebook provides detailed options to control your privacy settings and tools to enhance your security:

Privacy Settings

Control who can see your posts, profile info, contacts etc:

  • Public: Anyone including people off Facebook
  • Friends: Your Facebook friends only
  • Custom: Restrict to specific friend lists, exclude people

Login Alerts

Get notified if anyone logs into your account from a new device to detect unauthorized access.

Two-Factor Authentication

Require a code sent to your phone in addition to a password to log in for extra security.


Prevent specific people from viewing your profile or contacting you on Facebook.

Activity Log

Monitor your Facebook activity history and configure tracking preferences.

Ad Preferences

Manage interests used for ads targeting and opt out of categories.

Face Recognition

Opt out of face recognition features used for photos and tagging suggestions.

Take time to carefully adjust your privacy settings and enable security tools like two-factor authentication to protect your account.


I hope this guide gave you a comprehensive overview of how Facebook works and the core features available to help you get started. The key is to populate your profile, connect with friends and interests, post content readers find valuable, and limit visibility with privacy settings.

With so many users worldwide, Facebook presents amazing opportunities to reconnect with old friends, join like-minded communities and share your life’s highlights. Approach it thoughtfully, use common sense when interacting, and enjoy the connections!

Frequently Asked Questions About How Facebook Works

How do I create a Facebook account?

Go to, click “Create New Account” and enter your name, email or mobile number, password, birthday and gender. Confirm your account and start adding info to your profile.

Is Facebook free to use?

Yes, the core Facebook service is free to use. Facebook makes money by showing you ads based on your interests and online activity.

How does Facebook decide what content to show me in my News Feed?

The News Feed algorithm analyzes your interactions to determine your interests. Content from people, pages, and groups you engage with more will show up higher.

Can I use Facebook anonymously?

No, Facebook requires users to provide their real identity. Using a fake name violates their policies.

Is it safe for children to use Facebook?

Facebook requires users to be at least 13 years old. Parents should monitor underage use and utilize privacy settings to protect children online.

How do I report abusive content or behavior on Facebook?

Click the three dots next to a post or comment and select “Report.” You can report abuse, harassment, false information, inappropriate content and more.

How do I delete my Facebook account permanently?

Go to your Facebook settings and click “Deactivate Account.” Select “Permanently Delete,” enter your password and click “Continue” to delete your account and all data.

Can I download a copy of my Facebook data?

Yes, in your Facebook settings under “Your Facebook Information” you can download a copy of the data you’ve shared on Facebook.

How often should I post on Facebook?

1-2 times per day is ideal. Posting more risks overwhelming your followers with too much content. Post consistently on the same days and times when your audience is most active.

What type of content performs best on Facebook?

Short, entertaining or helpful videos as well as images tend to get high engagement. Useful articles, personality quizzes and polls also attract interest.

How can I grow my Facebook follower count?

Post engaging content daily, use relevant hashtags, optimize for SEO, run contests and giveaways, invite friends, advertise, and engage with followers. Partnerships and influencer collaborations can also expand your audience.

Is it bad to delete Facebook posts?

Occasionally deleting stale posts is fine, but repeatedly deleting posts after short periods creates a disjointed timeline for your followers. Be thoughtful about what you publish.

Can I schedule Facebook posts in advance?

Yes, you can use Facebook’s built-in scheduling tool or a social media management platform like Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance for convenience.

How do I deactivate my Facebook account temporarily?

Go to Settings > Account Ownership and Control > Deactivation and click “Deactivate Account” to disable it temporarily without deleting data.

Can I tell who views my Facebook profile?

No, regular users can’t see who specifically views their profile. Only page owners can see insights into how many people visited the page itself.

Does deleting Facebook messages delete them for recipients?

No, deleting messages in your inbox only removes them from your view. Recipients can still see the messages in their own inboxes.

How do I download my Facebook photos?

On desktop go to Settings > Your Facebook Information > Download Your Information and deselect everything except photos and videos. On mobile, go to Settings > Account Ownership and control > Download your Information.

How do I change my name on Facebook?

Go to your About section and click your name. Choose “Edit public details” and change how your name appears. To change your actual account name requires legal documentation.

Can you tell if someone takes a screenshot of your Facebook post?

No, there is currently no way to get notified or tell if someone takes a screenshot of something you posted publicly on Facebook.

What is the difference between Groups and Pages on Facebook?

Groups allow members to share between themselves. Pages operate outwardly to broadcast to fans publicly. Join Groups to engage in discussion, follow Pages to consume content.

A Detailed Guide to Key Facebook Features and Functions

New to Facebook? Here is a feature-by-feature guide to how key components of the platform work with tips for using them effectively:


Your profile is your personal presence on Facebook. Customize it to present your identity.

  • Add a profile and cover photo, info about yourself in the About section, education, work, places lived, relationship status, beliefs and more in the Details section.
  • The Intro section shows basic info like work and education at the top of your profile.
  • View your own profile as your followers see it using the “View As” option.

News Feed

Your constantly updating feed of new content from connections.

  • Like, comment on, and share posts to engage. Click “Following” to pin favorites to the top.
  • Check notifications andMessages icons regularly to stay updated. Unfollow or snooze friends if overwhelmed.
  • Use the More button on posts to control preferences like when to get notified about that person’s posts.


Upload and share photos to your profile, friends’ timelines, and in groups.

  • Post single photos, batches, or albums with customizable captions, locations, tags, feelings, dates.
  • Use filters, editing tools, stickers to enhance photos.
  • Leave comments and reactions on friends’ photos. Download your own photos via account settings.


Upload prerecorded videos or broadcast live video streams.

  • Upload videos to your timeline or natively via Facebook Watch. Premiere lets you schedule video releases.
  • Go Live to spontaneous stream via your profile, page, or group. Add filters, AR effects, polls, Q&As while live.
  • Use Facebook Watch to view recommended videos based on your interests and follows.
  • Interact with videos by liking, commenting, sharing, following their page, creating clips.


Share ephemeral photo and video stories that disappear after 24 hours.

  • Post text, stickers, music, filters and creative effects to daily stories.
  • Reply to friends’ stories with text messages, photos, or stickers via Instagram Direct integration.
  • View all friends’ stories in the left column. Your profile photo ring will be highlighted when you have new stories to view.
  • Archive stories to revisit later before they disappear under the Your Story archive.


Join niche communities to connect around specific interests and topics.

  • Search for and join public open groups or private closed groups that require approval.
  • Set Group notifications on or off. Participate in discussions via posts and comments.
  • Follow group rules. Report inappropriate content to admins.
  • Use Groups for networking, advice, discussion, events, community building, and more.


Create, share, and find local events and virtual gatherings.

  • Make an event by setting a title, location, date/time, guest list permissions, and other details. Send invites.
  • Find nearby events and upcoming live streams by clicking Events in the left menu bar and browsing categorized recommendations.
  • Mark yourself as Going, Interested, or Can’t Go. Comment on the event wall.
  • Use Facebook Events for parties, conferences, rallies, community meetups, online classes, and more.


Follow brands, businesses, influencers, artists, politicians and more via public figure Pages.

  • Like Pages to see their public posts in your feed. Comment and share their content.
  • Look for the verified checkmark icon to identify official authentic Pages.
  • Message businesses via their Page to ask questions, get customer support, and learn about products and services.
  • Review Pages’ content before following. Make sure they post regularly and offer value.


Buy and sell new and used goods locally via Marketplace.

  • List items for sale with a description, photos, pricing and shipping options.
  • Browse Marketplace categories like cars, housing, jobs, fashion, electronics, furniture, and more.
  • Filter searches by location, price, listing type. Message sellers before purchase.
  • Pay securely via Facebook Checkout. Rate sellers and leave reviews after transactions.


Sponsored posts from brands relevant to your interests.

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  • Click “Why am I seeing this?” on any ad to modify your Ad Preferences and interests brands can target.
  • Report false, offensive or misleading ads. Upgrade to remove ads.
  • Advertisers only see aggregated anonymous analytics, not your private data.
  • Engage with ads from brands you want to support. But be wary of sketchy claims or scams.

Friends List

Manage connections with your Facebook friends list.

  • Search names of friends to send connection requests which they can approve or ignore.
  • Organize friends into Close Friends and Acquaintances lists via menu next to names. Adjust what each tier sees via News Feed and Stories settings.
  • Unfollow friends to temporarily stop seeing their posts. Refollow any time.
  • Block specific friends to restrict them from viewing your profile or contacting you.


Instant messaging service to chat with Facebook friends.

  • Text, share photos/videos, video call friends and groups. Use chatbots, effects, games, payments.
  • Set up notifications so you never miss a message. Go invisible if you need to focus.
  • Forward messages to other chats. Swipe to archive conversations.
  • Enable encryption for secret chats that can’t be hacked.


Facebook’s hub for shows, news, sports, movies and viral videos.

  • Browse video recommendations personalized for your interests and follows. Subscribe to shows.
  • Use Watch for ad-supported free viewing. Upgrade to Facebook Watch Premium to remove ads.
  • Share videos to feed or via Messenger. Leave comments, reactions, create clips.
  • Follow creators, publishers, show Pages for updates in your News Feed.

Live Audio Rooms

Live audio chatrooms for conversations, performances, podcasts and more.

  • Listen to public figures, creators, and publishers broadcast live audio talks, interviews, Q&As, classes and more.
  • Join via the notifications tab or from a Room shared to feed. Request to speak on stage.
  • Follow Rooms, send Stars, interact via comments, polls, Q&A and reactions.
  • Create your own Room via profile, page or group to broadcast discussions with friends or your audience.

Dating (Canada, USA, UK, Mexico Only)

Opt-in dating service to match with people also looking for relationships.

  • Create a Dating profile separate from your main Facebook account. Verify identity.
  • Browse potential matches. Like their profiles to match if they like you back. Message matches to chat.
  • Share Instagram or Spotify integration, stories, posts to your Dating profile to showcase your personality.
  • Report inappropriate behavior. Block anyone at any time. Control who can message you directly.
  • Use for casual dating, long term relationships, meeting new people based on your preferences.


Connect with the VR community and manage your Oculus VR headset.

  • Browse VR games, apps, experiences. Purchase, launch and install them right from Facebook.
  • Join Oculus-specific groups, events, watch VR content.
  • Manage your Oculus device settings, notifications, and paired apps.
  • Collaborate with co-workers in virtual reality using Oculus for Business tools and Work accounts.

Facebook Pay

Send money and use payment services across Facebook apps.

  • Save card details securely. Use Facebook Pay for donations, Marketplace purchases, stars to creators, in-game credits, and more.
  • Manage your payments from Settings > Facebook Pay. View history, invoice details.
  • Use checkout services like Facebook Shops without re-entering billing details.
  • Donate to fundraisers, charities, nonprofits conveniently via Facebook Pay.

Crisis Response

Connect with and offer help to those affected by disasters.

  • Mark yourself safe from severe events so friends are notified. Offer shelter, supplies or volunteering.
  • Donate to verified fundraisers. Find and give blood.
  • Follow Pages of relief organizations. Stay updated on recovery efforts. Check for missing persons.
  • Use Community Help for local community aid groups assisting during continuous crises. Offer or request help.


Interact with your nearby community.

  • Follow and message neighborhood groups, community leaders, elected officials.
  • Check into and review local businesses. Reserve services.
  • List or search local items for sale, housing rentals, job openings and more.
  • Discover local events, fundraisers, groups. Offer help to neighbors.
  • Nextdoor integration allows seamless access to hyperlocal posts.

Remote Work Tools

Collaborate while working remotely.

  • Use Workplace to connect with internal teams and external partners through video, chat, posts, and more.
  • Work remotely via secure access to internal systems and tools.
  • Stream company town halls and events. Participate in training and workshops.
  • Seamlessly message, call, collaborate with coworkers across Workplace, Portal and Oculus.

Facebook Politics

Engage with political figures and issues.

  • Follow, comment, share posts from politicians, parties, and causes you support. Attend virtual campaign events.
  • Use candidate profiles and voting information centers to learn about policies and records.
  • Participate in civil discourse around issues. Report false news or hate speech. Fact check questionable claims.
  • Limit political content or snooze individuals if overwhelming. Set boundaries on engagement.
  • Respect other viewpoints. Focus conversations on common ground and solutions.


Raise money for causes by creating and sharing fundraisers.

  • Pick a certified nonprofit. Set fundraising goal amount and deadline. Share why the cause matters.
  • Invite friends as co-fundraisers to help spread the word. Use messaging and email through the fundraiser dashboard.
  • Donate to fundraisers conveniently via Facebook Pay. All fees go to the nonprofit.
  • Nonprofits can withdraw funds raised to their bank or PayPal account. Track progress and donors via the dashboard.
  • Follow Pages of nonprofits you want to support. Get notified when they launch fundraisers.

Climate Science Information

Get reliable climate science updates and learn how you can help.

  • Follow the Climate Science Information Center page for updates from authoritative scientific sources.
  • Learn the facts about climate change. Get tips for reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Support environmental advocacy groups, donate to green fundraisers and more.
  • Make your voice heard in support of climate policies and renewable energy solutions.
  • Fact check claims against reputable scientific institutions like NASA, NOAA, IPCC and major peer-reviewed reports.

Mental Health Resources

Access supportive communities and resources related to mental health.

  • Follow the collective Emotional Health page for updates on supportive communities, tips, training and more.
  • Join Groups related to your specific mental health concerns to find support. Participate in substantive discussions. Mute if overwhelming.
  • Get recommendations for credible mental health resources vetted by Facebook.
  • Use tools like crisis support chats, help for harmful content, suicide and self-injury prevention tools and more.
  • Share your experiences to help reduce stigma. But avoid glorifying self-harm. Report such harmful content when you see it.


Use built-in settings and tools to make Facebook usable for all abilities.

  • Enable screen reader support, keyboard navigation, text scaling, color contrast correction and more under Settings > Accessibility.
  • Add image descriptions to share more context. Alt text is generated automatically but can be refined.
  • Subtitles are available on many videos. Enable closed captioning which provides written dialogue.
  • Browse additional Accessibility features like support for screen readers, magnification tools, service animals and more under Resources.


I hope this expanded guide gave you an in-depth look at all of Facebook’s features beyond the basics. The key is exploring all that Facebook offers, settings things up in a way that serves you best, and using it to enrich your life safely and positively.

It may take some time to learn but becomes intuitive. Approach Facebook thoughtfully, focus on quality connections and information, and have fun with it!

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