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Learn the Lingo of Social Networking

You'll be poking friends and leaving status updates in no time.

Profile: A group of pages that act as a combination of an online journal, message board, and photo album. Facebook profiles may include your work information, hometown, photos, interests, and messages from friends on your "wall" (see next entry).

Wall: A virtual message board on Facebook, where friends type messages and can comment on the photos, videos, and status updates you've posted on your profile. The wall can be a source of embarrassment when friends leave messages referencing incidents best left unmentioned (often beginning with "I was just remembering that time..."). This is where the delete function comes in handy.

Status Update: This feature lets you post a short note about your status (what you're doing at any given time) and lends itself to abuse by the uninhibited ("Jane is going to the proctologist"). To tell all (or just a little), fill in the "What's on your mind?" field on your personal profile page and click on the button to share.

Friend: Anyone whom you accept into your online circle, and anyone who accepts you into theirs, is called a "friend," whether the person is a close relative or a complete stranger. This title in no way confers an actual relationship of any sort and may lead to learning superfluous personal details about casual acquaintances (see "Status Update").

Poke: A friendly—and sometimes flirtatious—way of saying hello to friends and more-than-friends. To send a virtual poke, click on the related link on friends' profile pages. Your friends receive private notification of the action—letting them know you're trying to get their attention. We say: Keep poking to a minimum. And if you do it, remember your manners: All poking should be welcome and consensual.

News Feed: This up-to-the-minute feature on the Facebook home page alerts you to your friends' profile updates—photos added or work information changed, for example. The news feed was a controversial feature when it was added in 2006, as users first believed the constant broadcasting of information would violate their privacy (see next entry).

Privacy: A term dating back to circa 2004...before the invention of Facebook and other social-networking sites. Generally regarded as passé.

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