The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Friendly obsession


Poke the hot girl in your math class. Confirm that Jesus Christ and Dan Quayle are your friends. Let everyone know who you voted for. Search for long lost high school friends. Where can you do all of this without anyone raising an eyebrow? On
Just when you thought that religiously checking AOL away messages and member profiles was taking over your life, Mark Zuckerberg, a student at Harvard University, created this neo Web obsession and a way to stalk your friends, and those you wish were your friends. is an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges and universities, Hughes said. It is funded through advertising revenue.
“We wanted to combine an idea for a universal online database with an interactive social networking interface,” Hughes said.
Last winter, after weeks of work and many conversations, Zuckerberg and friends created, said Chris Hughes, co-founder. It was launched to the public on Feb. 4.
The features on the site include setting up a personal profile with a photo, adding friends, finding buddies at other schools, joining groups and messaging other users.
With users from 256 colleges and universities, the creators never foresaw the site’s success, Hughes said.
“At the outset, Zuckerberg was playing around with an idea for Harvard students, but now, it’s a site with over 870,000 users,” Hughes said. “It’s blossomed from a product of late-night dorm room conversations to a serious Web site.”
This Web site has recently taken Texas A&M by storm. Juls Sharpley, a junior political science major, heard about through an e-mail from a friend. Upon joining, she realized that many students she knew were members. Sharpley said she visits the site at least once a day.
“My favorite part is being able to search for people I went to high school with,” Sharpley said.
Sharpley also enjoys competing with friends to see how many buddies are on her list.
“It also helps if you don’t know who people are,” Sharpley said. “If you met someone and don’t remember them, you can look them up.”
Sharpley said she once recognized someone on campus, but could not remember where from. As it turned out, she didn’t know them at all, but had seen their photo on the site.
Sharpley said is more of a distraction than an addiction for her. Joseph Perez, a junior sociology major, however, admitted to his addiction. He spends approximately an hour and a half a day on
“In between classes I go to the SCC and look on facebook,” Perez said.
Perez described as being somewhat like an AOL Instant Messenger buddy list, and many of his friends on the network are merely acquaintances. Close friends or not, Perez has 159 people on his friends list.
“I think everyone wants to know how many of their friends know other people that they know,” Perez said.
Perez said his favorite part is “poking” people. Poking members involves clicking on a button that says “poke,” and the member that is poked receives an alert for this. According to’s Frequently Asked Questions, it means nothing more than that. Perez said he and his friends have a lot of fun with this feature.
“We have poking contests to see who will give up first,” Perez said.
Some students, such as Jonathan Winkler, a junior construction science major, have made new friends through One of Winkler’s friends wanted him to meet someone, so Winkler was added to her friends list. Winkler and the new acquaintance began messaging each other on and became friends. Over the Thanksgiving break, Winkler met up with her and they hung out.
Winkler, who does not enjoy instant messaging, was attracted to the Web site because it looked different.
“It boosts your self esteem when you look and see all your friends,” Winkler said. “It’s neat to see your connections to other people at A&M.”
Many students have celebrity “friends” on whose fake profiles were created for fun, such as Reveille, Bill Cosby, George W. Bush and Justin Timberlake. Since students must use their university e-mail addresses to create personal profiles, students create these fake profiles using their multiple Neo e-mail alias addresses. One profile that boasts more than 1,500 friends at A&M is Jesus Christ.
One creator of the Jesus Christ profile, who wishes to remain anonymous and called his role an “anonymous counselor,” said he and a friend created the Jesus profile in late October after noticing several Jesus profiles at other universities.
“We want this profile to be there for anyone to leave prayer requests or maybe questions about Jesus Christ,” said the profile’s creator. “We understand that we are in no way experts on Christianity, but we will answer what we do know, and perhaps direct those questions which we do now know to more informed Christians.”
The creator of the profile said he does not claim to be Jesus, but that he just wants to affect individuals in positive ways.
Perez thinks the fake profiles are fun because anyone can add them as a friend.
“I can put them on my facebook and it makes me look more popular,” Perez said.
Hughes said the site has become successful because it is versatile and fun.
“Different students use thefacebook in different ways, but in general, our users return to the site to find information on their peers, to make connections with friends and acquaintances, and to communicate with one another,” Hughes said. “It’s a reference tool and means for communication.”
To join, your school must be added to the network. Hughes said those who run the site try to add about 50 schools each month, but haven’t been as consistent as they hoped. On average, 10,000 students join each day, Hughes said.
Students’ opinions are mixed as to whether the site has much permanence. Perez thinks people will eventually stop going to the site.
“I think it might fade out really fast,” Perez said.
Sharpley, however, said she thinks it will be a little more permanent, like AOL instant messenger.
“IM is helpful on building relationships,” Sharpley said. “Facebook is helpful with remembering people.”

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