Thefacebook is a online directory/social network that revolves around colleges and universities, founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. What makes it different from those other social networks? Well…
  1. "Search for people at your school." Unlike Friendster, Thefacebook is primarily interested in connecting people at a given university, and so your main social network consists only of people at the same school you're in. It's possible to add friends from other schools, but they're labeled separately as such (under the names of their schools.)
  2. "Find out who is in your classes." Thefacebook gives you the option of listing your current classes through a smart pull-down menu interface. You can list the rosters for your classes or search for people by class, so it's easy to find out if your friends have profiles, or whether that hot chick who sits in front of you is single.
  3. "See a visualization of your social network." I admit I haven't actually tried this, since it requires the SVG plug-in, and I'm too damn lazy to install it. Presumably, it takes the 'degrees of separation' concept further by making a pretty vectorized chart of your social network. This sounds like one of those features that'll get axed later on when it starts bringing down the server.

Other things include options to list your high school, political orientation, residential location, contact info, major ("concentration"), birthday, and summer plans, most of which are searchable items. Interestingly, it seems to keep track of campus newspapers, so your profile will automatically cite you if your name appears in any articles.

Thefacebook is remarkably well-designed and fast, and—mostly because it cuts social networks down to the university-level—it seems to be much more versatile and interesting than Friendster and other humanity-scale social network websites. Unfortunately, everyone is still at the same level, meaning that "collecting friends" without any sort of prioritization is still present. And it doesn't have some of Orkut's cool features, like "crush matching" and instant discussion boards.

As of June 29, 2004, Thefacebook supports Boston College, Berkeley, Brown, Boston University, Caltech, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Florida, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, Michigan State, MIT, Northeastern, Northwestern, NYU, Penn, Princeton, Rice, Stanford, Tulane, Tufts, UC Davis, UCLA, UCSB, UCSD, UNC, USC, UVa, Washington, Wellesley, and Yale.

And the website: http://www.thefacebook.com/ (Thanks to KilroyWasHere for informing me of Thefacebook's recent addition of Caltech, USC, and UCSB.)

To update kingku's above post:

Facebook now must have hundreds of colleges listed, everything from The American Academy of Art to the Zion Bible College. It also recently launched a high school Facebook.

Some Facebook features:

  • Groups: groups are created for anything and everything from people who are going to a certain party, shared interest groups, and actual clubs. Groups are limited to each school (meaning that a group that started at one school can't have members from another school). There are also "sponsored" groups from companies like Electronic Arts and Apple.
  • Parties: You can list your party on Facebook and announce it everyone at your school, or only invite certain people.
  • The Wall: a message board on your profile page lets people leave little comments for you.
  • Poking: you can "poke" other Facebook members. They are informed the next time they log on and can view your profile. This is useful if you are not friends with someone (and can't view their profile) but don't want to add them or send them a message yet. It is the internet equivalent of a wave.

Facebook is quickly becoming an irreplaceable part of the college social network because of its various features, and its focus on the social network.

TheFacebook.com (or now just Facebook.com) is a website that functions as a social networking tool and online directory that works in a similar fashion to friendster, tribe, or myspace, but was created specifically for students. The website was originally created for colleges and universities, but now has expanded to high schools. Facebook.com currently supports almost all major colleges (with several exception for various reasons), and most minor colleges as well. It was launched to the public on Wednesday, February 4th, 2004. The site was founded by Mark Zuckerberg and press relations are handled by Chris Hughes.

How theFacebook works:
Users register using their e-mail addresses provided by their school. This helps to ensure that they are not fabricating a student at a school they do not attend. Troll accounts for social networking tools would ruin the point completely. Each student creates a profile and adds current friends, classes, and or information (later defined). To work as a decent networking tool, it is suggested you only add people as friends if you actually would spend time with them. Adding friends and classes allows you to them browse your "social network" or in other words people who are in your classes or friends of friends. You can also fill out other personal information allowing you and other facebook users to search for students with similar interests.

A typical profile:
Every facebook user's profile can allows them to add the following information (feel free to skip unless you want to know what a profile contains EXACTLY):

Basic information
School - Current school (needs valid e-mail to change)
Status - Who you are at the school (Student full time / grad, staff, faculty, alumnus)
Sex - gender (male or female)
Year - Your expected graduation year
Concentration - Primary field of study
Secondary Concentration - Secondary field of study
Residence - Where you live (dorm / house / off campus location)
Room - Your dorm room, or house's room number
Mailbox - Mailbox number for campus mail
Birthday - Used to remind your friends of your birthday
Home town
State
Zip code
High School
Contact Information
School email - This is the email your account is registered to.
Preferred email - This is where notices will be sent
AIM screen name - AOL Instant Messanger ID
Mobile phone number - You are able to select if your friends, friends of friends, or your entire school can see this.
Other phone number
Address - Where people can mail you.
Website - I put mine as my homenode.
Personal Information
Interested in - Sexual prefrence (Men, women, both)
Interested in meeting for - Friendship, dating, random play, a relationship, what ever I can get
Relationship status - Single, in a relationship, in an open relationship, married
In a relationship with - places a link to your SO's profile
Political views - Where you lie on a political compass if you have views at all.
Interests - Anything you're interested in goes here.
Clubs and Jobs - This is where you put your extracurricular activities.
favorite music - Musical interests (typically by bands or artists)
Favorite books - Favorite writings (usually generic books that everyone reads in school)
Favorite movies - Favorite movie titles (usually the longest list)
favorite quotes - Your favorite quote.
About you - A spot to tell your story outside of what you've listed already.
Courses
A list of your courses goes here.
Picture
A picture of you should go here seeing that it is called thefacebook. Sometimes this does not happen.
A sample profile (mine) can be found here:
http://facebook.com/p.php?id=15904880&l=fe5e838c43
Go ahead. Facebook me!

Groups: On thefacebook, users can create groups based on organizations, a Fraternity/Sorority, a common interest, a sports team, or a sponsor. Many of these groups revolve around pop culture such as movies, music, and television shows or by what name you call carbonated beverages (I say soda not pop, I say pop not soda, I say coke not soda or pop), but on occasion a group will for that helps facebook uses network outside their above described social network. These groups usually involve a game, sport, or interest that needs more than one person to occur. Obscure board games such as Settlers of Catan and sports like water polo make good groups because they allow people to organize games when they may otherwise not be able to. Sometimes these groups are created just for fun. For example groups like I am bent on world domination and Penguins are Probably the Coolest Thing On the Face of the Earth and Probably Other Planets Too! don't have much of any point outside humor and jest.

The wall:
Each user has something called a "wall". This is a open messaging area for the user's profile similar to those seen on myspace and deviantart. People leave comments about how sexy users are or are not, how much fun they had last night, and birthday wishes for anyone to see that visits that user's profile. Sometimes these can cause annoying chain messaging, but usually a user's wall contains quirky little messages from friends and strangers giving a little shout out to the wall's owner. These messages can be deleted my the writer of the message or the wall owner in case either party is embarrassed or generally displeased with what appears there.

Poking:
Poking is something that doesn't really have a real-world equivalent. Basically, it is a way to have a facebook user have their attention drawn to you. When viewing a facebook user's profile, a button will allow you to poke a user. When that user signs on after being poked by you, their home page will alert them that they have been poked by the poking party. This can be used to flirt, start a conversation with someone you don't know, or generally draw attention to the fact that you do in fact exist. It seems to be a way to alert a user that you have some sort of interest in them without actually writing out a message defining what your interest in them is. It's a fairly shame free way to network. Poking makes it easy for shy guys to see if that cute girl from your biology lab is interested enough in you to talk to you online and a is good alternative to drunk dialing.

My Parties:
If you want to host or attend a party, thefacebook allows you to advertise or search for a party for free! If you want to throw a birthday bash or just have people over for the weekend, posting a party on thefacebook will help you organize it. You can keep the party to invitation only and show users from your school only who will be there or not or you can send the invitation to everyone at your school giving them the time and date to wreak havoc. Browsing the list of parties shows you all of the parties happening at your school (assuming they've been listed) this week with ease. The only downfall is that it is possible for such an announcement to draw unwanted attention.

My Photos:
A public photo album hosted by thefacebook. This is a neat feature that allows you to see all of your friends' online photo albums in one place. I haven't created one, but it seems to be easy enough to do.

Messaging:
Like any good online networking site, facebook allows you to actually talk to other people! The best part is that you don't even have to write /msg before typing what you have to say! Every time you get a message from a user it sends an email to your account so that you know when someone is trying to talk to you. Not that most users need this notice. I mean they sign on to thefacebook.com every 20 minutes anyway.

"Facebooking" as a verb:
To facebook someone is to look up their facebook profile.
"Facebook me, if you need my email."
Facebooking in general is surfing your extended social network and interests on thefacebook.com.
"Oh, I'm just facebooking." or "Do a facebook for 'vampires'!"

Sponsors and thefacebook as a company:
Thefacebook.com has to make money somehow. One of the ways they do this is by allowing companies to sponsor groups or advertise on the site. On occasion, after signing in a user will see a notice asking them to join a group such as Apple Student, a movie, or some EA sports related group. These groups aren't too popular among students, but they get the name out there as any advertisement should Thefacebook also takes what you've listed in your favorite music, movies, and books and links you to a person poster store at http://www.allposters.com. This seems to be a smart way to sell college students what they want where a paying company wants them to.

Pros and Cons:
Facebook is a really simple site that is easy to use. The whole thing is rather minimalist and it doesn't have all of the color options and CSS editing that other sites allow making it generally easier on the eyes and more uniform. It also gives more fields to fill information out in making it easier to search users for exactly what you're looking for. It helps students meet people from classes, remember that brief acquaintances' names, find email addys, and generally socialize with people who you usually might not. It gives clubs, teams, and other groups a free place to talk and gather as well as allows users to spread word of a gathering. It's fun in the way that it is almost a game.

On the down side, for some people it is a game. People turn thefacebook in to a site where they try to collect as many friends and cute users on their friends list that facebook as a tool no longer works like it should. From time to time, you will also get students posing as an well known basketball player or football player from your school. This again goes against what the tool was created for. Also, thefacebook is a huge distraction during class. At my school at least, almost every room is wired for wireless. Laptops are everywhere and during a lecture no one is there to stop someone from browsing all class period.


Visit: http://www.facebook.com or http://www.thefacebook.com to register or for further contact information.
All information taken for personal experience and the website's about page. Please /msg me with comments or concerns. You can even /msg me to mock the fact that I linked to a picture of me.

facebook has caught a lot of flak recently over privacy concerns. To be sure, facebook's default privacy settings are much more public than you would have expected fifteen years ago.

First, some background. Most people joined Thefacebook as an easy way to stay in contact with family and friends. People upload photos, talk about themselves, message their friends, and just communicate more than they used to. If you don't want to communicate any more than you did ten years ago, you probably didn't create an account. Since my generation joined (20, more or less), facebook has changed: likely your boss and grandmother are online, advertisements are targeted to your interests, and most recently, certain information from your profile is sent to other websites when you visit them.

This last part is causing the recent consternation. Savvy users can adjust their settings to make less things public, but certain information such as your name, friends, and your interests are public and stay that way. I recently read a study in which it was found that people can find out a lot of information about you by only looking at your public friends list.

However, the answer to the question, "What problems does this raise?" is difficult to find. I've noticed that all these arguments against facebook rely on a common axiom: Privacy is important. Is this really the case? If you're in hiding from the mafia or the FBI, I can definitely understand your concern. How exactly are the rest of us harmed by Pandora letting your friends know what kind of music you like? Is it so bad to learn that someone you know just purchased a similar book at Barnes & Noble, or also read an article at CNN? We all seem to have the idea that if we put a piece of information online, someone will find it and do x with it. I've applied all the math I can, and the only value of x that I can find is: have a more accurate idea of who you are.

An example often used to prove privacy's importance is that employers look at the facebook profiles of people they are interviewing. Your potential boss will find out that you like to watch Family Guy, listen to Lady Gaga, play football, and read Science Fiction. Perhaps he will notice from a picture that you sometimes enjoy an adult beverage. If you aren't hired on these justifications, I don't think you would have enjoyed the job anyway. Why should you temper your life to better fit someone else's expectations?

I am introverted and not, in general, a very social person. On the other hand, my profile is completely public information. Anyone with a facebook account can read this note and any part of my profile. If someone takes the time to look at my account they will find the best possible representation of me, perhaps even better than actually meeting me.

The accessibility of information has been increasing ever since the invention of the printing press. I'm confident that in a few short years, any information at all will be available to anyone in the world. Think of these implications! One only has to look at Google, Wikipedia, or yes, facebook to find how access to information is a good thing. At least the Luddites were angry that they were losing their jobs. Why are you rallying against the expansion of information?

In fairness, here's my facebook account

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