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Facebook is an online social media and social networking service owned by American company Meta Platforms. Facebook is only one of several technologies that Meta operates. In 2012, Facebook acquired social networking site Instagram for $1 billion. Facebook then acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014. Facebook later got into virtual reality (VR) hardware with its acquisition of Oculus VR in 2014 for $2 billion. With Meta, the idea is to create and enable the metaverse. This would meld social networking, VR and augmented reality components to create new types of user interactions and experiences.

Facebook - "How to" video

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Key Facebook features

Facebook started out as a community where users shared information about themselves and different topics. Over time, different features expanded the scope of its capabilities:

  • Timeline. User profiles and updates are shown on what is known as the Timeline. Timeline is the successor to the Facebook wall, which was the original home for user profiles and updates. The user timeline includes posts, status updates, friend listings, photos, videos and user activity information.
  • Friends. A primary feature of Facebook is the ability to search for and connect with friends and family. The search interface helps users quickly find acquaintances and also suggests potential connections.
  • News Feed. News Feed enables users to view news from the connections and groups that they follow. Users can like a given post or comment on it.
  • Pages. Pages are the profile and content pages for businesses on Facebook. Pages provide the ability for businesses to share information and communicate with customers.
  • Games. Facebook provides an integrated capability enabling users to play games on their own or together with friends. Amongst the early successes of games on Facebook was Zynga's FarmVille.
  • Groups. Communities of interest can organise themselves with the Facebook group feature. This enables the sharing of information, images and active discussions.
  • Events. This feature enables users and groups to organise events that their followers can attend. It enables users to send out invites and help manage an attendee list.
  • Marketplace. This is an online yard sale, where users can buy and sell goods and services with other Facebook members.
  • Messenger. This is an instant messenger that enables friends to communicate in real time via webchat or a mobile app.
  • Video. Facebook Live is a feature that enables individuals and businesses to stream live video to friends, family and followers.

Uses for Facebook

Billions of people around the world use Facebook daily to create and grow communities, personal interactions and revenue. There are many uses for Facebook that individuals, community groups and businesses can benefit from:

  • Connecting with friends. The primary use of Facebook has always been about connecting people. Facebook is a way to find and connect with friends and remain updated on their activities.
  • Creating communities. Facebook is used to create and organise communities of interest on just about any topic. It's a platform that can enabled like-minded individuals to come together, share ideas, discuss and organise.
  • Engaging with customers. For businesses, Facebook can help with brand building and customer engagement. Having a Facebook presence enables businesses to share information about products and services to established and potential customers.
  • Searching for jobs. Facebook is often a way to look at the personal and professional lives of people and organisations to see if there is a cultural fit. Businesses also often list available jobs on the app.
  • Selling goods and services. Businesses can sell goods and services directly in the marketplace. They can also push consumers towards their products via advertisements.