Facebook: The Missing Manual
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: January 2008
Pages: 272

Facebook is the wildly popular, free social networking site that combines the best of blogs, online forums and groups, photosharing, clever applications, and interaction among friends. The one thing it doesn't have is a users guide to help you truly take advantage of it. Until now. Facebook: The Missing Manual gives you a very objective and entertaining look at everything this fascinating Facebook phenomenon has to offer.

Teeming with high-quality color graphics, each page in this guide is uniquely designed to help you with specific Facebook tasks, such as signing up, networking, shopping, joining groups, finding or filling a job, and a whole lot more. You'll discover how to create your page and make connections with other members in no time -- everybody who went to your school, for example, or those who work at your company or play on your soccer team. Bingo: instant access to the personal and professional details of all the folks you're connected with, the folks they're connected with, and so on, and so on.

With Facebook: The Missing Manual, you learn to:

  • Join a network, whether it's in your area, or work-related, or based on other interests
  • Look up old friends, find new ones, and decide who you'd like to keep track of
  • Contact members by poking them, writing on their walls, and sending them gifts
  • Get automatic updates from Facebook friends and send updates to them
  • Participate in groups of particular interest and hook up with members face-to-face
  • Buy and sell using Facebook's uniquely targeted marketplace and classified ads
  • Find a job or hire employees by combing through Facebook's member pool
  • Use Facebook as a collaboration tool to keep team members, co-workers, clients, and projects up to date
  • Play it safe by using a multi-pronged approach to ensuring your privacy
Think of Facebook as a 30-million-plus-entry searchable Rolodex on steroids! With help from this Missing Manual, you'll quickly get in the swim of the Facebook experience -- without getting in over your head.

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oreillyFacebook: The Missing Manual

(based on 7 reviews)

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


Suitable for Mac users

By Johnny

from Helsinki


  • Helpful examples


  • Not comprehensive enough

Best Uses

  • Novice

Comments about oreilly Facebook: The Missing Manual:

Worth reading this book particularly for the user of Mac computers. I use PC and many things are not similar to my PC facebook format. Nice sturdy buinding.

(1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


Informaiton out of date

By nevin

from glenside, pa

About Me Educator

Verified Reviewer


  • Well-written


  • Too many errors

Best Uses

  • Intermediate

Comments about oreilly Facebook: The Missing Manual:

Too bad FB made many changes after the book went to press. It is otherwise very good. The back inside-cover promises a CD to keep up to date, but finding the information is impossible. nevinmann[@]

(6 of 7 customers found this review helpful)


Facebook: The Missing Manual, great intro to the site and reference

By Clay S. Fernald

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Facebook: The Missing Manual:

Facebook: The Missing Manual by E. A. Vander Veer

O'Reilly is on point again with this latest addition to The Missing Manual series.

Facebook was started as a collegiate networking site that opened its doors to everyone in September 2006. My experience with social networking

platforms dates back to Friendster.com and the more popular Myspace.com, and I was excited to join Facebook, and did so quickly.

I'm a 'once-a-day' visitor of Myspace.com, and have become quite familiar with how that network grows, and how to hack profile settings to

customize my experience there. On joining Facebook, I was in less familiar territory, and I was looking to understand the way in which this new site works.

Facebook: The Missing Manual does a nice job explaining to new and experienced users how the site is structured and how to get the most out of Facebook's functionality.

The first four chapters of the book illustrate what I view as basic information about joining the site, finding your online friends, sending messages and joining networks.

This is very useful for the first-time user, but if you are already on the site, I would recommend skimming this section for some of the important safety tips inline with the text.

The next sections of this Missing Manual is where it starts to get interesting to me as a user and as someone interested in promotion and sharing information online.

Step by step, you are shown how to join groups that you are personally interested in, create groups and also how to create individual events that you may choose to invite your friends too. Whether it is a party, a concert, or a pick-up softball game, Facebook makes it easy to invite your friends to the event. Your friends will then be able to R.S.V.P. with ease, and you will easily be able to count out the right number of spoons and bowls for your annual roof deck ice-cream social.

Also explained in these chapters is the Facebook Marketplace' application. This is a way to use Facebook as an alternative to sites such as craigslist.org. I have mixed feelings about the use of this feature, as I personally don't find myself placing ads here, but on the other hand, offering your friends first dibs on a free couch might feel better than giving the couch to a stranger. Again, use of the application is up to you, but if you had any questions about the steps you may need to take, this book is a handy reference. You might also consider placing an ad of looking for employment on the Marketplace application. Facebook makes it easy to put your work experience right on your profile.

On a side-note related to job seekers and job posters out there in the cloud, the book warns that you may wish to be careful what information is on your profile and what pictures you or your friends have posted. We are in a world where your Facebook page is very likely to be under scrutiny by employers after you apply for a job, or by a potential employee. Facebook: The Missing Manual warns that you might want to review your content to ensure it is PG-rated.

When I first joined the site, I found one feature very confusing, and I was so skeptical of it that it took me a while to trust it. Now, after some time, I understand this feature and have gone so far as to delve right in to developing for it. The feature I am referring to is 'Applications.' Facebook made another smart move by opening its doors to programmers and developers, whom were able to create small programs to the site. Facebook developers are making custom applications to promote brands and services, but also, most of the applications are for fun! Scrabulous is a popular application for playing Scrabble online against your friends, there are countless other games to choose from, and the community of developers are only constrained by their imagination to come up with new uses of Facebook daily. Facebook allows the user to decide what information the application makers have access too, so I would caution users of the site to carefully read the warnings that you are prompted with when agreeing to add the application.

Facebook: The Missing Manual has, throughout the book, warnings about privacy and protecting your information. This topic is directly related to the application feature, and is covered much in the chapter related to the feature.

This well-written book is a must-have for parents curious about the safety features of Facebook, for beginning to intermediate users of the site, and also for people who may wish to use the site as the representative of a business or group. Facebook has many unique features, such as 'poking', and you will find terms and good practices illustrated in this book with clear screen-shots and clever, oft-times funny text to use as a reference to getting the most out of this popular social networking website that has caught on rather quickly and is developing more features each day.

Realistically, I can imagine that the next print edition of the book may need to be updated, as this is the nature of writing on the social networking online experience.

(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)


Who is the audience for this supposed to be?

By Chris Devers

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Facebook: The Missing Manual:

O'Reilly sent me a copy of "Facebook: The Missing Manual (http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/9780596517694/index.html) ", and I keep meaning to post a review of it online (http://chrisdevers.vox.com/library/post/mini-book-review-facebook-the-missing-manual.html) .

It's a strange book for O'Reilly, who's traditional bread & butter is dense, laden books on arcane little Unix subsystems & programming languages. Of course, that has changed for them with the success of the "Missing Manuals" series, and with their traditional markets largely in decline (http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/05/state-of-the-computer-book-mar-12.html) , clearly they're looking to stake their territory in the new "web 2.0", "web apps not desktop apps" landscape.

But still, an entire book on Facebook?

I've always been a bit baffled by all the books on, say, using eBay. Obviously there's a market for this kind of thing, and I suppose that the best titles get beyond the basic mechanics of manipulating the site interface -- which is inevitably going to constantly evolve anyway -- and more on placing it within a context, putting the site to use as a tool for your life, etc. While I haven't actually read any of the many eBay books (http://search.atomz.com/search/?sp-q=ebay+&sp-a=sp1000a5a9&sp-f=ISO-8859-1&sp-t=general&sp-x-1=cat&sp-q-1=&sp-x-2=cat2&sp-q-2=Books&sp-c=25&sp-p=Books&sp-k=Books&c=&p=Books&query=ebay+&submit.x=0&submit.y=0) , still I like to imagine that the best of them would be written this way.

Disappointingly, this isn't how "Facebook: The Missing Manual" was written. As the table of contents hints (http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/9780596517694/toc.html) , the bulk of the book is a simple mechanical walkthrough of how to use the site: set up an account, log in, navigate the different types of pages, etc. There are two major problems with this approach:

If the site changes, the material quickly becomes outdated. In fact, Facebook already has changed since the book was published in January, and more radical changes are on the way (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/21/big-changes-coming-to-profile-pages-on-facebook/) . It's one thing to tie a book to a specific version of a traditional application -- a book on Apache 2 or Mac OS X Leopard or Perl 5.8 is pretty much going to directly apply to any instance of that version of the software. But web sites are contantly in flux, and the author doesn't get to assert "this book is for Facebook 2007" or "that book is for Wikipedia 2006". At best, the book can be written in an abstract, functional way, with lots of caveats that "this is all subject to change, but it worked as of the publication date." This book isn't really written that way.

Most people, from high school kids to grandparents, don't seem to be having a whole lot of trouble in just diving in & actively using Facebook. As it should be. Like most sites, it's designed to be easy & intuitive to use, and while that's an elusive target for any piece of software to attain, it's not unreasonable to assume that if you're savvy enough to manipulate a mouse, a web browser, and Google, then the additional work required to also figure out Facebook just by using it isn't going to be difficult for most people. Moreover, when the site evolves, you have to figure it out this way anyhow, so even if you get the introductory lessons from a printed guide, you're still going to have to eventually learn by doing, the way the people that skip the guide are doing.

There could have been a way out of this. The book could have tried to place Facebook within the broader landscape of social networking sites, which actually would have been a pretty interesting book to read.

Just like AOL before it, Facebook can perhaps best be thought of as a "training wheels" version of the social web, with a "jack of all trades, master of none", "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to things. Facebook has a photos widget, which is convenient, but not as nice as Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/) . Facebook has status updates, but a lot of people prefer Twitter (http://twitter.com/) . Facebook has ways to post blog-like activity -- writing, posting links, etc -- but most people that want a blog use Blogger, Tumblr, Wordpress, Vox, etc.

The interesting things that set Facebook apart from these other sites are mainly (a) that it has all these things and more, and they more or less work, and (b) it has developed a critical mass of users that makes the site more interesting & useful than the tools themselves -- your mom may not be on Twitter, but she may well be on Facebook.

But it's not an either/or proposition -- there are no shortage of tools, both desktop and web apps, within & apart from Facebook itself, that allow FB to interoperate with these other sites & services, so that your Flickr photos show up on Facebook, your Facebook status updates show up on Twitter, etc. A book on this might have been more interesting, but maybe the title would have to change: "Facebook and the Social Web: The Missing Manual", or simply "Social Networking: The Missing Manual".

In any case, as a fairly tech-savvy guy, clearly I wasn't the target audience for this book. I let both my wife and my sister-in-law read it, as they're smart, but they aren't quite nerds like I am; they didn't see the point, either. "If you can't figure it out by using it, how would a book help you?" Indeed. I've considered giving the book to my mom, as she has made it clear that she doesn't quite understand her Facebook account, but I assume she wouldn't take the time to read a book on Facebook to begin with.

I'm sure there's an audience out there for the current edition of "Facebook: The Missing Manual", but it isn't among any of the people I know. They all either already have Facebook accounts, and so didn't need a book to get started, or they aren't interested in Facebook, and so wouldn't want to read a manual for it to begin with.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


If you don't get Facebook, you need this book!

By Anthony Garrett-Leverett

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Facebook: The Missing Manual:

If you love Facebook, Facebook: The Missing Manual is a must have. I'm a 36 year old professional that has hundreds of contacts ranging from kids I coached high school football and basketball for, and the other associates I have met over time as being the president of various organizations. My initial experience using this site was rather frustrating because it was difficult finding people, especially those my age. After a while, I managed to find a couple people, however my experience with Facebook was the equivalent of the large sigh my little doggy does when he is bored.

Then came Facebook: The Missing Manual. Not only did this book give me a better understanding regarding "friends" and "Networks", but it reversed my impression of how useful this site can be. For me two big selling points became very useful for me. The first one is the support for multiple browsers, especially those that are very popular with the OS X operating system. For example, uploading pictures to Facebook was as simple as allowing a Java program (using the Safari browser) from Facebook to work with my iPhoto library. Since I already have my pictures organized in the iPhoto program, it was a matter uploading albums versus individual pictures. This was a huge improvement from other sites you try to upload to. The second point was the mobile phone feature allowing the ability to send notifications and messages from Facebook, and in turn being able to text back in a reply to my messages. Now that may not mean much to you, but the really creative part about it is that you have the ability to control the what and when it comes to receiving messages over your phone.

After reading majority of the chapters, it also brought to my attention how I can export my address book, or create an email list to find individuals I have networked with in the past. By becoming aware of how to utilize and integrate my other forms of networking with Facebook, this allowed me to improve the amount of connections I was able to make by 300%. I also enjoyed the creative ways that the book explained how you can create events, hire, job search, and promote your business. These features are important for me, especially now that I have a DJ business, and a best friend running for political office. I can inform my whole network, and be able to gauge those that will come to an event.

Trial and error are the ways I normally learned, however the time I spent reading this book made me have a better appreciation of what I was using. The book was well balanced using photos and written instructions. A good book to use, especially if you tend to be a kinesthetic or visual type of learner. I'm sure that Facebook will eventually become integrated further with the way we communicate with each other. This book explains the present, and the promise of using this website. I highly recommend the book. For me personally, it was one of the best things I could have read to enhance my life as an IT and volunteering professional. I thought I knew a lot, but I was only using 15 of the features available. Now I utilize about 30, and the time I spend using the site has been cut down in half, but I communicate with people on the site more efficiently by using the tools identified in Facebook: The Missing Manual. It was definitely time well spent reading this book.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


The perfect Missing Manual

By Anonymous

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Facebook: The Missing Manual:

This book is a great resource for all those people that are starting to use facebook. It have a very few pages (268), a very larged-sized text and a lot of big colorful images. Probably the geeks and the nerds will have problems with this book, because only speak about the 'user part' of faceboook, and not how to program an application... but is a Facebook - The Missing Manual, not Facebook Hacks. As contents the book is very completed and easy.

In my opinion this is a perfect example of a 'Missing Manual'


Nice little primer for Facebook fans

By jsuda

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Facebook: The Missing Manual:

The Facebook online social network site has become a phenomenon with over 50 million account holders registered with the "online village." It is easy to open an account and almost immediately set up online relationships with friends, coworkers, and community groups. Like its online rival, MySpace, Facebook's features include easy ways for people and (businesses) to connect via blog features, online groups and networks, photo and video sharing, text messaging and postings, and an elaborate tracking system which stores Facebook's activities and allows access to that data to other FaceBook users and even to others not directly connected with Facebook.

The book, "Facebook: the Missing Manual," is designed primarily for the non-technical computer person who wants to join the fun and business of using Facebook. It is a basic primer describing how to use and enjoy the Facebook features --from registering, setting up a profile, finding and inviting friends to join your personal network, joining groups and networks which share your interests, playing with both silly and serious applications, and using Facebook for business purposes, even for job postings and searching.

The book is a relatively short 268 pages, given its layout of large-sized text, much white space, and the presence of numerous full color screenshots illustrating step-by-step instructions on using Facebook. Geeks and nerds probably will not find much value in this book, but computer neophytes will enjoy its simple, yet comprehensive, approach to its topic.

More importantly, in my view, not just for neophyte users but for many of those already using Facebook, is the books' most useful theme which is learning how to understand the privacy issues involved in using Facebook. Facebook's most salient feature is its activity tracking system which stores data on nearly all Facebook activities and provides ample means of access to that data by other Facebook users, data-mining companies, and even third-party businesses which track off-site consumer activity like shopping, _ and up to recently _ without a user's active consent .

Once data is entered into a Facebook account, it never disappears, not even after one deactivates the account. For those users comfortable with sharing nearly everything about themselves online _ personal information, candid videos and photos, and the like, this state of affairs can have enormous practical consequences either now or later, both good and bad. Facebook's privacy preferences are mostly of the "opt out" nature, so if you don't pay attention to the consequences of even the seemingly most innocuous user configurations - for example, activating any third-party applications no matter how silly, allow the developer full access to your personal data - privacy-related problems can develop.

The book is filled with tips and practical suggestions at every section providing information on what can happen with these your and your friends' data and what steps one can take to protect your privacy expectations. Those tips alone justify the price of the book, for yourself, (or as the case may be), your kids, or grandkids.

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