It seems like just about everyone is on Facebook now. It's more than just a place to hang out with Internet buddies. Facebook chat has become a good way to keep in touch with the people we care about in real life. If you've used the chat window on Facebook, perhaps you have noticed the emoticons (smiley faces) that sometime appear in the chat messages.

Facebook emoticons

These emoticon icons about built into the Facebook chat system, but you won't find instructions for using them anywhere on Facebook. This article explains how emoticons such as these came to be so widely used, as well as examining the circumstances that caused Facebook to grow at such an astounding rate to surpass earlier social networking sites and emerge as the indisputable leader.

Facebook emoticons

Just a few short years ago, MySpace was king of the social networking websites. New sites that attempted to compete with MySpace simply could not. They had such a large base of users that most of the competition didn't stand a chance. MySpace was so sure of its status that it advertised to attract venture capital based on the claim that it was the biggest and best social networking site in the world.

MySpace grew quickly by providing a service that no other site was providing at that time. It allowed friends to connect with one another through more than just e-mail and instant messenger programs. They provided each user with their own page to customize, along with a blog and a place to share photos with their friends. This allowed for more interaction than e-mail or chat alone.

However, MySpace had some drawbacks. For one thing, the number of friends that most people acquired seemed to grow out of hand rapidly. Instead of being friends with their family members and real life friends, many members had 'friends' they didn't even know. People started abusing the MySpace system by adding friends for the sole purpose of advertising their services, even going as far as spamming the comments section of people's pages with blatant advertising.

MySpace also allowed customization of profile pages using CSS files. While some people used this feature to create nice-looking pages, most pages on MySpace seem to be made up of a wild assortment of glitter and flashing animated icons. This was a big turn-off to many of MySpace's older users.

Facebook started out as a tool to help college students stay in touch. It started at Harvard University and as users discovered it, they spread the word to others to check it out. People liked the clean look and feel of the site and found it to be a refreshing change from MySpace. Although Facebook was originally open only to college students, it was eventually expanded to be available to everyone.

Although Facebook provided the same type of service as MySpace, they kept their focus on making it easy for people to communicate with each other rather than allowing the site to turn into a big mass of glitter and spam. This is the main reason that Facebook grew so quickly even though MySpace already had a huge head start in social networking.

Many people thought that Facebook was making a mistake by integrating chat into the website, but it fit with the purpose of the site-keeping people connected. The chat interface made it easier than ever for people to stay in touch. Although many other chat programs have a lot of extra features that aren't really needed in order to chat, Facebook decided to keep their chat interface simple, just like the rest of the site.

However, chat emoticons such as smileys had already become such an integral part of online chat, allowing people to express emotion in their messages, that Facebook implemented smiley codes into their chat window. These smileys can be used by anyone who knows the code. Some of them are obvious, since the codes are the same as those used on other sites. Others are discovered by accident or by trial and error, as people try different combinations to find out what works. These Facebook chat emoticons are an integral part of Facebook chat and learning them will allow you to get the most out of the biggest social network in the world.