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TheFaceBook

Thefacebook is a social networking website similar to sites like Friendster, Myspace, and orkut but specifically targeted at college and university students. The name is based on the paper facebooks that many colleges give to incoming students, faculty, and staff depicting members of the campus community. As of 2005, it has the largest number of registrants among college networking sites.

The site is open not only to students, but to university faculty and staff as well.

Like other social networking websites, thefacebook.com allows users to search for people and select them as "friends," but it is targeted towards college students—indeed, the site attempts to restrict access to its various facebooks for different institutions by requiring a validated school e-mail address. The site limits the ability of students to access information between schools—though mutual friends from different schools may access each other's profiles—but Thefacebook offers an interesting advantage over other friendship websites in that it allows members to browse through students taking the same classes, living in the same buildings, or coming from the same high schools.

Members may search their local campus or search for friends in the Facebook's "global" network, which includes students at all universities on the Facebook.

Thefacebook .com members may also found and join groups. These groups can be social, academic, or joke groups. Many clubs and greek fraternities/sororities also create Facebook groups to easily connect members. Facebook members may also list parties for their campus. These can be searched for by others. Facebook parties allow for public or private parties to be listed and include an RSVP feature.

The Facebook allows for members to message each other, which is a form of e-mail inside of the Facebook interface. Members may also "poke" each other. This feature posts a message on the login page saying that you have been "poked" by another Facebook member.

Thefacebook was founded in February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, then a sophomore at Harvard College.

Initially, the website only allowed Harvard University students to register. The website spread very quickly across the Harvard campus. Within a few weeks over half the undergraduate population had registered.

The facebook website was then expanded, first to allow the registration of students from other Ivy League colleges and Stanford University. It became something of a network phenomenon, spreading very quickly, despite some opposition, including alleged Google bombing, at Columbia University from CUCommunity.com (http://www.cucommunity.com)(http://www.columbiaspectator.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/09/08/413eb595b7657) (http://www.columbiaspectator.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/03/22/405e8dca10e79?in_archive=1); the users of CUCommunity.com, later CampusNetwork.com, claimed that thefacebook was an imitation of their university's social networking community.

The facbookcomwebsite has since expanded to many universities across the United States and is, as of 2004, in terms of sheer numbers of registrants, the leading social network website aimed at college students. In November 2004, the number of registered users exceeded one million. Some universities caught on to the facebook phenomena quickly while others took more time. For example, the University of Florida currently has about half of the student body registered, while a university comparable in size, such as the University of South Florida, has registered about a quarter of its student body.

Thefacebook hosts facebooks for some 650 different colleges and universities throughout North America and in the British Isles. Currently, very few non-American universities are represented (five in Canada, four in the United Kingdom, and one in Ireland). The operators of the website have pledged to rectify the issue soon, adding more universities as time goes by. In April and May 2005, thefacebook added its first community colleges.

In 2004, the owners of the website ConnectU.com (http://www.connectu.com) filed a lawsuit against Thefacebookcom, alleging that Zuckerberg had stolen source code intended for ConnectU.com (http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=503336) (http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/archives/2004/09/20/news/10767.shtml).

Criticisms

Some have argued that the face book is not as user-friendly as other college-networking websites. For example, Thefacebook has been criticized for not allowing users to view profiles of people at other colleges who have not already listed them as a friend. Also, it is not well-suited to blogging or journal-keeping in the way other similar sites are—its only blog-like feature is a "wall" on each user's page that any friend can edit, but with no organization. Problems with maintenance have been an issue as many new accounts are made each day causing heavy traffic for the servers.

The Facebook is regularly adding new features, both internal and external. Wirehog is an external application which can be incorporated with the Facebook. Wirehog is a peer-to-peer file sharing program where members may search for files being shared by their friends and download them over the internet. As of April, 2005, Wirehog is under Beta testing and is allowing for new growth by invitation only.

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