Thefacebook: Are you invited?

Maggie Krohne

New on-line site offers students another way to stay connected

Credit: Andrew popik

How many friends do you have?

Sophomore finance major Glynnis Tamba has 40.

Her roommate, sophomore anthropology major Elizabeth Large, has 46 — online friends that is.

These two Kent State students are part of a growing nationwide online picture directory of college students,

“Thefacebook is just another great way to get a hold of friends,” Tamba said. “You can use it to contact friends you see all the time, friends from high school that you’ve since lost contact with or friends just waiting to meet you.”

This site, which started as a small online directory at Harvard University, opened to the public in February and has since grown from a handful of schools and users to more than a million users at 300 different colleges and universities.

In a recent interview in Current Magazine, Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of and former Harvard student, said he was motivated to start this Web site because of “a social need at Harvard.”

“I wanted to be able to identify people in other residential houses — Harvard is a fairly unfriendly place,” he said. “While each residential house listed directories of their residents, I wanted one online directory where all students could be listed.”

Thefacebook is a rapidly growing means of communication among college students everywhere — allowing members to know almost everything about their fellow classmates, from their favorite movies to their favorite music and even their dating preferences and status.

“I feel connected with friends on Facebook,” freshman geology major Robin Green said. “I also know when people’s birthdays are and other great facts. Facebook lets our whole dorm get to know each other, and we find out things about the people we say ‘hi’ to everyday but never really know.”

Anyone who has ever set up an e-mail account, an Instant Messenger account or even registered for classes online can navigate easily around this user-friendly site. There is one condition, though — only enrolled college students can register.

To become a member of Thefacebook, all that is needed is a valid university e-mail address. That address allows Thefacebook to identify which school the student attends and the rest of the information, or profile, is supplied voluntarily by the member. Students can add as little or as much information to their profile as they wish.

Surprisingly, however, due to privacy restrictions on the site, stalking has yet to be a major concern — at least this is what creator Zuckerberg said in his recent interview with Current Magazine.

“We have actually received far less complaints about stalking than we otherwise would have expected,” he said.

Students are advised to be cautious, as with any other site, and watch how much information they give and to whom they give it.

Once registered, students can start building their list of friends by “inviting” other students to become friends with them. From there, the student invited can either confirm or reject the invitation, thus choosing whether or not to add that student to his or her list of friends.

Another way to communicate through Thefacebook is by joining groups. Groups can be arranged by classes, common interests, organizations and sports, as well as by fraternities and sororities.

Brian Handler, junior electronic media production major, said Thefacebook is a “great way to talk to people you wouldn’t otherwise talk too, plus I started an ‘Anti-Cops at Taco Bell’ group that I rather enjoy.”

Other Kent State groups include “Barbie for President,” “Late Night Rosie’s Group,” “How I want The Original Hub Back,” “Bring Back the Old-School Nickelodeon” and “Akron Sucks!”

These are only six of more than 1,000 groups formed by Kent State students. The groups unite students, allowing them to “meet” new people, without the social strain of ever meeting new people.

In this ever-growing information age, Thefacebook offers students yet another way to find out “what’s happening” without ever stepping foot outside their snow-covered residence hall.

“Facebook doesn’t just help me when I’m bored and need something to do,” sophomore conservation major Brandon Winkler said. “It helps me find things to do, find a new person to hang out with or a new place to party on Thursday nights.”

Some students call Thefacebook an addiction. While no one’s entering rehab yet, one thing’s for sure — Thefacebook is definitely contagious.

When Kent State students were asked how they heard about Thefacebook, all answers were alike:

“I heard about it from a friend, who heard about from a friend, who heard about it from a friend …”

Contact features reporter Maggie Krohne at [email protected].