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

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Facebook can be a confusing maze for newcomers — how do I sign up? Why should I even bother with the social media tool? E. A. Vander Veer answers these questions and more in Facebook: The Missing Manual, now in its second edition.

The manual is organized into four larger parts: "From Signing Up to Staying Connected," "Interest Groups and Shopping," "Doing Business on Facebook," and "Privacy and Power Tools." Virtually every page contains helpful screenshots showing step by step how to establish an account, find friends, and set up a profile. Boxes containing tips and notes provide additional information that answers questions and doles out advice on such topics as whether to sign up on your computer or mobile phone.

Vander Veer excels when explaining issues to consider when first signing up with Facebook. For example, she lists items to consider when constructing a profile: "What do I want to get out of Facebook"? "How security conscious am I?" and "How much time do I want to spend on this?" The author also makes copious use of humor, such as calling the default profile picture "a dorky blue and white outline of a guy with a cowlick."

In addition to instructing Facebook beginners, Vander Veer also addresses business uses for the social media site. For example, she illustrates how Facebook can be used for virtual collaboration. Project managers may upload flow charts, then utilize the tagging feature for photos to identify each team member's responsibilities. She clearly demonstrates how to restrict access to certain groups and members, alleviating privacy concerns. Feeds can update project managers as to when someone has uploaded a file or created a not. Through such examples, Vander Veer successfully argues that Facebook may serve as a free collaboration tool, and she discusses other business functions many may not have considered. She also provides tips for job seekers and recruiters, showing how Facebook can be used as a virtual resume and career networking tool. A thorough explanation of their free and paid advertising services is also included.

Another highlight is the chapter on safety and security. The author's checklist provides guidelines as to how much information to share, and she gives suggestions such as establishing a separate email address for your Facebook account. She humorously promotes the "mom or boss" check — in other words, do not post information that one's boss or mother should not see. Including screenshots and easy-to-follow instructions, Vander Veer demonstrates how to control privacy and access settings. Every user, from beginner to more advanced, would benefit from reading this chapter; it succinctly untangles the often confusing settings and alerts readers as to which are most important. This chapter alone is worth the purchase price.

In general, beginning Facebook users should keep Facebook: The Missing Manual by their computers as a handy reference tool. Even though the site is user-friendly, certain aspects can still confuse. Vander Veer effectively clarifies various elements of the service, using copious illustrations and providing simple instructions. Advanced Facebook users may find some chapters too simplistic, although Vander Meer offers novel ideas for business applications, job seeking and hiring, and advertising. Because of ongoing security and privacy concerns, her chapter on security settings obviously applies to all users. The chapters are clearly outlined and organized so readers can skip to particular sections that are most applicable to individual skill level. Facebook fans at all levels can benefit from The Missing Manual, and the book serves as a classic example of how simple language, numerous graphics, and a touch of humor appeal to various learning styles.

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About Kit O'Toole

  • Paul Burns

    For a social network.. I agree very confusing and I don’t know how many times I have people asking me simple things like how do I see my full list of friends.

  • Hilary Topper

    I also wrote a book about social media. It’s important for those who never grew up with social networking to learn how to utilize it… Nice job!

  • Thank you all for commenting! Stephen, I think you’ll find some interesting business uses for Facebook in this book.