PROS / Facebook's ease of use makes it easy to check for updates and notifications.
CONS / You cannot change the profile color or add custom skins.
VERDICT / If you don't already have a Facebook account, it's time to sign up for one and get connected to your friends and family.
With the inception of social networking sites in the early 2000s, there were several start-up companies looking to maximize their membership and excel in niche areas. In the first few years that Facebook entered the scene, it was meant to be the best way for college students to socialize and connect. It didn't take long for this service to expand and become inclusive of people of all ages, from 13 on up. For several years now, Facebook has maintained its title of the best social networking website.
Facebook's service is constantly updating. This social network site has seen the mistakes of former top social networking sites like Myspace. To stay on top, Facebook has realized that it must add features and change the site layout to stay ahead of the curve and keep from becoming stagnant. This social network has framed the way that most other social networks work. Its wide variety of picture, video, advertising and security features will keep this social media service at the top for the time being.
Facebook has become a way of life. You can instantly communicate with old high school friends or peruse your neighbor's vacation photos. This social network is so pervasive that it's unusual if you hear someone claim they don't have a Facebook account. Because of the number of members it has and its vast features, Facebook is our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award winner for social media sites.
One of many aspects that Facebook has perfected is dealing with usability. This social network is centered on keeping people logged in to their accounts. Even when you visit other sites, Facebook wants to be just one click away. In fact, you can't visit many sites without seeing the social media buttons that allow you to share the content on Facebook. When you log in to this social media site, the first thing you see will be a news feed that keeps you updated on the lives of your friends. The Facebook toolbar will notify you immediately if you have a new friend request, an unread message in your inbox or if someone commented on or liked your status or posts.
Facebook is an entirely free service. There are no AdSense ads clogging up the page. You will see a column of ads tailored to your tastes using internet cookies. The ads are small, and you learn to see past them. Where Facebook thrives in terms of advertisements is through the growth of small businesses owned by Facebook members. You can create a page for your business, band or event and gain publicity by asking for likes and keeping people consistently informed about your business. You can also gain attention and reach for new likes by creating your own Facebook advertisement.
The mobile app for this social network is very impressive and can even provide for a better experience if you only care to see what is highlighted by the news feed. It cuts out the majority of ads, suggestions and friends that are current online and open to chat. These options are still available from your smartphone or tablet, but they are hidden unless you swipe the screen, either right or left.
We are impressed by how much information you can upload to your Facebook account. You can post YouTube videos and watch them directly from your news feed without even following the link and opening a new window. Also, beyond uploading photo albums, you can upload personal videos, just in case you have relatives who may have missed out on special memories, like a child's first steps or footage of your friends they may have forgotten about after a night of partying. We find that Facebook really does allow you to keep in touch with friends in many different ways, even if much of it is over sharing.
Facebook's website design is straightforward. It has few graphics or decoration, but most users adore the uniform, utilitarian interface. Although you can't customize skins or change the color scheme, you can rearrange the position of some of your information boxes on your profile by simply dragging and dropping them to other spots on the screen.
When you edit your profile, you can be as specific as you'd like to be. You can make your profile a mini resume with your current and past jobs. You can also add items to your education networks. Once you add this information, Facebook can focus on specific suggestions for people you may know from your university or current job. You can also add your basic information such as where you live, your favorite quotes, your website, and your religious and political views.
Facebook's search bar will allow you to search based on any aspect. If you want to join a fan page, you can find it by looking up keywords or names. Though this social networking website isn't only for college students, there is still a big focus on finding friends that you have gone to school with. If you search by email address and find friends who aren't Facebook members yet, you can send invites and, should they choose to eventually start an account, they will immediately be notified of your friend invite.
You must be at least 13 years old to register with Facebook. You cannot browse the Facebook database without registering for an account. In its terms of service agreement, Facebook states that it does not allow offensive content such as sexually charged language and explicit photos; however, it also states that it is not responsible for closely monitoring the content on the website. Facebook encourages members to report content they find offensive. Facebook also allows you to block individual users, report spam and report profile abuse.
Facebook has some of the most specific and custom privacy setting of all the social network sites we reviewed. In addition to making your entire profile private, you can select which sections of your profile you would like displayed and to whom. For example, your wall can be open to everyone, but your photographs can be set to only display to your friends or friends of friends. The same is true for your personal information, education, work and contact information.
Facebook is the king of social networking sites for a reason. We felt the safest while navigating this site. You also can't go wrong with its great mobile app, and being connected to your friends whenever you feel like it. Facebook is the go-to service for staying in touch with friends and family, reuniting with old friends and making new connections.