The most addicting website since The Blue
March 19, 2005 3:54 AM   Subscribe

[TheFaceBook]: It comes in the genre of LiveJournal, MySpace, and Friendster - except with a focus on digitally connecting pre-existing friendships on college campuses rather than finding new friends worldwide. Subsequently, it has thus far avoided the stigmas I’ve seen attached to its predecessors by non-users. Its use has skyrocketed: about 15% of my campus has signed up since this past winter. All of it through word-of-mouth. One of the neat tricks it does is show a visualization of your friends on the network in a spider webbed vectored graphic connecting them based on their mutual friendships. It’s also proven very useful in tracking down those “where do I know him/her?” names through a prominently displayed list showing up to two-degrees of separation to the mystery person. Oh, and you can send text messages to cell phones through it. Did I mention it also reminds you of birthdays?
posted by trinarian (29 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
All of these sites lend a sense of community but I wonder how deep it exists. I have friends whose kids went off to college for the first time this year and use the sites to stay in touch with old high school chums but I don't know if they help with new friendships.
posted by etaoin at 4:25 AM on March 19, 2005

Don't forget the lawsuits; it's claimed that Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, stole the idea and the code from, where he worked for a while. So now he is being sued. was registered before Facebook, and has many things the exact same. Someone's certainly ripped off someone.

Facebook also tried to hold a national Beer Pong tournament. (Except they called it "Beirut". Beer Pong, no matter what you call it, is a drinking game that is only a little bit less trashy than doing a beer bong.) They stopped after about five hours when advertisers complained about how they were encouraging underage drinking.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:49 AM on March 19, 2005

I'm docking 10 points for using the phrase "most addicting."

An acquaintance of mine likes to mock FaceBook by noting that the emphasis of "pre-existing friendships on college campuses" makes your friends network on FaceBook into a bit of a contest, to see just how many glamorous friends at Ivy League colleges you can get. "I have 5 friends at Haaaahvard, how about yourself?"
posted by mek at 5:19 AM on March 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

it is one of the more addicting things on campus-- but the biggest benefits of it is that it really does put you back in touch with old high school friends and you can see what they're up to and all that.

and suddenly, everyone knows when your birthday is and they all say happy birthday, as if they all knew.

my facebook page, in case you were wondering what it all looks like.
posted by virga at 5:44 AM on March 19, 2005

Oh. I just found a girl I have a crush on from studio. I don't know how much good it will do me though, as I already dontaed my school email account to a friend so her cat could have an account.
posted by atom128 at 6:02 AM on March 19, 2005

I signed up in a moment of weakness and boredom ( I typically disdain these sort of things) and then all sorts of people from high school I barely remembered and was glad to forget started e-mailing me. My network was hardly a reflection of me or my actual friends, so I unregistered.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 6:16 AM on March 19, 2005

Hm... where's this SVG friend-network thingy? I almost never use thefacebook because it always seemed to have fewer features than Friendster and whatever others. Plus, I see all the networked people in class every day.
posted by rkent at 6:49 AM on March 19, 2005

and then all sorts of people from high school I barely remembered and was glad to forget started e-mailing me.

Brings to mind Bill Maher's rant two weeks ago" "New Rule: Stop giving me that pop-up ad for! There's a reason you don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days: mowing my lawn."
posted by ericb at 8:04 AM on March 19, 2005

Let's not forget that this kind of system is how Orkut started. A year ago Orkut was the shit. Now?
posted by sninky-chan at 8:47 AM on March 19, 2005

i'm annoyed i didn't have it while in college. as one of my chums said (who's still to graduate), "it helps a lot when you want to know if that hot guy two rows in front of you in psycholinguistics is gay or straight." i suppose in that regard it strengthens shy and asocial habits, but...but...
posted by ifjuly at 8:59 AM on March 19, 2005

Apparently I've been on facebook for exactly one year today, and ifjuly's right- facebook's finest use is for getting the dirt on people you've just met. I'll come out as a having facebook stalked- I used it to find a climbing partner (who i already knew, just didn't know they climbed) for a break when all my usual climbing buddies were out of town. And maybe Northwestern just has a weird facebook vibe, but I also ended up at a good party where the invitations were sent out only over facebook. Getting friended by a guy who I haven't seen since we were five was sorta trippy, too.
posted by spooman at 9:12 AM on March 19, 2005

Here's my page.

Remember how you can recall all your whole elementary school class by first and last name? Well, I hadn't seen a grip of people in over 10 years, and I was able to track them down through Facebook. Nostalgic at most, but it was interesting to see whether girls I had crushes on turned into swans or ogres.

Really, all conversations started as, "Hey~! Long time no see!" Followed by, "Yeah! I remember you! What's up?" And that was the extent of it.

My best friend and ex-gf use it to stalk the boys they like. And myspace. And 2 years ago, they used to make fun of me for having a livejournal.
posted by Mach3avelli at 9:12 AM on March 19, 2005

Here's a column from my school's newspaper that relates to ifjuly's comment. It's definitely a different take on using the site than I took, but I think it's very interesting.
posted by PhatLobley at 10:03 AM on March 19, 2005

There's a business version of this, too - which is actually more useful in a practical sense.

Rather than reminding you of all of your fifth-degree social connections (not people you are likely to need to send birthday cards to) it helps you capitalize on your fourth-degree connections in your field when you need a job.
posted by booklemur at 10:41 AM on March 19, 2005

Thefacebook has really exploded. I love seeing which people from highschool became archconservatives and which didn't. Really great stuff for the gossip mill.
posted by deafmute at 11:01 AM on March 19, 2005

I met my girlfriend of the past year via Facebook. She was the only female at UPenn who mentioned Cryptonomicon in her profile.

For the facebook-login-challenged:
dmd, slj

So, I'm quite a fan.
posted by dmd at 11:02 AM on March 19, 2005

Not being able to get one for another six months is sort of annoying. I wish they had a Facebook for high schools.

Oh wait, that's MySpace.
posted by Muffpub at 12:13 PM on March 19, 2005

posted by moooshy at 1:57 PM on March 19, 2005

Here''s my page...

Facebook is dumb.

It is just another ridiculous popularity contest to see how many "friends" you can rack up, in comparison to your friends' friends. And stuff.

I get messages all the time, "Asshole McAlphaTauOmega has requested you add them as a friend," and it's a picture of some fratboy with a keg over his head.

That said, I do have a facebook account because 90% of my school does. It's pretty much the college equivalent of a yearbook.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:04 PM on March 19, 2005

It's pretty cool, in theory. I have never used it for practical purposes but potentially, if I needed to get the paper assignment for a class or somesuch, I could check the class roster and even see who in the class is friends with one of my own friends.

As others have said, there is the problem of "Facebook whores" though — I reject tons of people who I barely know who are only looking to increase their friend-count. My rubric is "Would I do a favor for this person?" Anything less devalues the system as a whole.

People from high school and even elementary school have tracked me down, but no worthwhile nostalgia or anything has ever come of it.

Great for stalking, though. Just like Googling the name of someone you've just met, but much more in-depth.

My profile, by the bye. (Note to most of you who've linked your profiles: they are only visible to your friends or people logged in from your own school unless you use the external link format).
posted by rafter at 2:16 PM on March 19, 2005

Oh, and no one mentioned Wirehog, a Facebook-integrated P2P network that only allows your friends and their friends to download your files. Pretty neat idea.
posted by rafter at 2:18 PM on March 19, 2005

I switched schools after 8th grade, but most of my friends went on to the public high school, so hunting them down through facebook has been quite a thrill. Still, it gets to be a bit of a popularity symbol. I'm not friends with a good number of people who've added me as a friend. But the birthday reminders are so damn useful.

(My page)
posted by hopeless romantique at 2:36 PM on March 19, 2005

My profile that everyone can see


What system? I don't think there's any system of value inherently in thefacebook. Who cares if people have more friends? It doesn't really say much outside of facebook.
posted by moooshy at 2:49 PM on March 19, 2005

I just started using facebook so I haven't had the problem of random strangers wanting to be my friend. Right now its just been people I vaguely know which is why I would love to have acquaintance as an option. But wirehog looks interesting.
Oh and here's my profile
posted by philcliff at 3:51 PM on March 19, 2005

My Facebook profile. For what it's worth, I only friend people I've actually met and who would recognize me walking through campus, which is why my list of friends is a bit short.

The real value in the Facebook is the possibility for networking after you leave college (provided it stays up that long, of course). There are already a fair number of alumni on there. And at least at my school, large numbers of people end up going on to graduate school and/or the government/finance sectors where it is good to know people.
posted by armage at 5:52 PM on March 19, 2005

I am old enough to remember when this was called Friendster, and goddamn, it was just as annoying then, too.
posted by bhance at 6:01 PM on March 19, 2005

I don't think it's a popularity contest at all, at least for me and the people I know. It's much more about stalking and allowing yourself to be stalked: I think the fact that you can immediately find out so much about someone you just met makes it so addictive, as others have said.

I've never used a website as much as I have the Facebook. I think this is because it is an online social network that almost exactly matches our real-life social network. So many people from my school are on it that it has become a part of the way we meet and interact with each other. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it seems like the inevitable next step for an information society, or something out of a Cory Doctorow story. (Meet someone, check their Whuffie, etc...)

Anyways, this is me.
posted by mayfly wake at 12:12 AM on March 20, 2005

Regarding this and as one of my chums said (who's still to graduate), "it helps a lot when you want to know if that hot guy two rows in front of you in psycholinguistics is gay or straight.", the system's probably not 100% foolproof. Faced with the "Interested in:" query, I checked "men" because, well it didn't explicitly say "Sexually interested in:" and I've got a lot more male friends than female friends (because I've gots the SAD). I'm also interested in bowling but I don't want know...with a bowling ball. Suffice it to say I've gotten a few interesting messages from non-heterosexual people since then. The first time it happened, I didn't quite understand why; then I realized, "oh right, I'm supposed to be gay now". The Internet is full of lies and I'm but a humble liar.
posted by RotJ at 11:38 AM on March 20, 2005

Facebook is pretty much useless once you get outta college. At least in my experience.
posted by chime at 4:01 PM on March 21, 2005 [6 favorites]

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