Facebook is a social network that enables you to connect with friend's and family member's profiles, and send instant messages to those online at the same time as you. To instant message with a friend on Facebook, you must first send a friend request or approve a friend request that's been sent to you. The individual will then appear on your Facebook chat list located on the right hand side of the screen.

Connecting with Friends

You need a Facebook account to connect with friends and family members on the social network. After you create an account, you can start sending friend requests to other Facebook users. To find friends and family members on Facebook, enter their name in the search field at the top of the website and click on the search icon or hit "Enter." Select the name of the person you want to connect with to view her profile, and click "Add Friend" at the top right to send a friend request. The individual will receive a notification of the friend request with the option to accept or ignore it.

Accepting Friend Requests

After the individual has accepted your friend request, you can view his full profile, send messages and instant message with him if he's online at the same time. The individual will appear in your "Friends" list letting you know that you're connected with each other on Facebook. You can now view his status updates, "Like" or share content he posts and view his Facebook Timeline. If you don't want the individual to have full access to your information, add him to your "Restricted" list. Friends on your restricted list can view only information that you set as public.

Facebook Chat List

Friends you are connected to on Facebook will appear in the chat list on the right hand side of the screen whenever they're online. If they're available, a green dot appears beside their name letting you know they can accept instant messages. The chat list also lets you know whether they're connected to Facebook using the website or on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. You can send messages to friends who are offline, but they won't receive the message until the next time they log in. If you want to turn off the chat feature, click the settings icon at the bottom of the chat list and click "Turn Off Chat."

Considerations

Although the chat list is a quick way to view who's online and send messages to your friends, you can also send messages by visiting a friend's Timeline. Navigate to the Timeline for the individual that you'd like to message, and click on the "Message" icon located at the top right. A chat window will open at the bottom of the screen for you to type your message. You can also access your messages from the News Feed by clicking on "Messages" located on the left hand side of the screen. You cannot instant message with people you're not friends with on Facebook.