CDs, Cell Phones, iPods and … FaceBook?

Lucinda Albers

Lucinda Albers

If you haven’t gotten it already, kudos to you. If you have, I’m sorry. I registered for FaceBook more than a month ago and I have to say I definitely spend more time on it than I do on my homework. Not that I spent that much time on homework anyway …

The point is, even though I don’t have that many friend requests or messages, I just look at everyone’s pictures and profiles. People have added me and I don’t even know who they are, but I accept their requests anyway. It’s a competition to see who has more friends, and in the process you become ‘friends’ with more people than you actually talk to.

But do you know when, where and why FaceBook actually started? Or maybe a few risks involved? Just read on, dear Facebook addict, read on.

How it started

In the early months of 2004, Mark Zuckerberg had the idea to create a Web site that would allow students to connect with one another.

“At heart, FaceBook is an online directory that connects people through social networks at schools,” says Chris Hughes, spokesperson for FaceBook.

Zuckerberg, a Harvard student, thought to change the old facebooks, with freshman photos and boring information, into something the students themselves could control.

“It was a pretty simple concept: to create a universal online database for college students with social-networking functionality,” says Hughes.

Zuckerberg made the Website with the intent of just allowing Harvard students to join. However, so many students (more than 6,000) had signed up in the first few weeks.

“It seemed ridiculous not to open it up to a few other schools,” says Hughes.

Zuckerberg joined forces with several others, and started adding more and more schools.

The purpose of the site is to let students connect with each other in an entertaining setting.

“The idea is to offer students a resource of information and a means for communication, but at the same time, a tool that is fun to use,” says Hughes.

A person’s profile includes everything from name and date of birth to favorite quotes and movies.

“We enable students to exchange information about themselves-screen names, favorite movies, classes, friends, etcetera, and provide them an online structure for them to do it in,” says Hughes.

The Stats

In almost two years, FaceBook has expanded from one campus to almost 900 across the United States.

Approximately 85 percent of students in state-supported colleges have a profile on FaceBook, according to Hughes. This equals to almost 3.9 million members.

At SDSU, almost 5,600 students are registered users. This number includes full- and part-time students, faculty and alumni.

FaceBook is not just for college students, either.

Recently, FaceBook has expanded to high schools. This is easier for kids to use because most high schools do not have e-mail adresses. Students register under their personal accounts, and change the contact information once they graduate and go to college.

Since FaceBook has added high schools (there are approximately 22,000 in the United States), FaceBook’s target market increases substantially.

Hughes says “tens of thousands” of high-school students have joined since the expansion.

FaceBook also allows alumni to register.

FaceBook usually requires registration with a valid school-affiliated e-mail address. However, many alumni can get school e-mail access through their alumni associations.

FaceBook’s expansions have paid off as its member numbers have risen. According to an Internet tracking service, ComScore, FaceBook had more than 8.5 million unique users in September.

“A unique visitor is a visitor that has gone to the site. In other words, that isn’t counting the same user’s visit over and over again from the same computer; each user is different,” says Hughes.

Each day, around 60% of FaceBook’s users log in and almost 200 million page views occur in any given day.

About 85 percent of users log in at least once a week, and 93 percent log in at least once a month.

Also according to ComScore, FaceBook’s users spend 16 minutes a day on the site on average.

“[These stats] put us at the number eight spot on the entire web,” says Hughes. “We also are tenth in terms of overall traffic on the Web.”

FaceBook makes a profit through three different things.

The first is local text ads. This includes announcements from colleges and local businesses (most run at about $15 to $20 per day).

Their second profit is made thorugh banner ads and other Web-site support.

The third profit comes from several sponsored groups (like Apple and Geffen Records).

The Pros and the Cons

While FaceBook has many pros, it probably has just as many cons.

FaceBook can help you keep in touch with classmates and friends even if you don’t go to the same school.

It can also help you connect with other people from your classes if you have a question about homework. It can help you meet other people if you are a freshman and don’t know many students. Or you can meet people in your major if you want to get involved in activities.

Although many may not admit it, they are, indeed, addicted to FaceBook.

“My roomate won’t sign up because she thinks she will be addicted,”says business economics major Cameryn Christion, a registered user of FaceBook.

Before you can register for FaceBook, you must set up your university e-mail address.

This allows your teachers to get in touch with you easily, and helps you get in touch with them.

However, FaceBook can also backfire.

With strangers having access to other people’s profiles, anyone can know anything about you.

“It’s pretty snoopy, you can find out almost anything about someone,” says Christion.

Possible employers may also be able to look up your personal information.

If you are applying for a job (or have one already), the employer may have access to FaceBook, and may be able to find out any of your information that you have posted. They can find your pictures (especially with the photo album feature soon coming), and wall comments (like the posts about that one really harsh night at the bars).

But will FaceBook last, or is it just a passing trend?

“People were all hyped about it right away, but eventually things slow down,” says Christion.

Whatever you think, FaceBook continues to be growing in numbers each day.

Who knows if it will ever stop?

#1.884424:1222874824.jpg:facebook03_tc.jpg:Technology is penetrating the campus through innovations such as wireless internet.:Ty Carlson