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UA students log on to Web site for social networking


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By April Lacey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 6, 2004
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Since February, college students across the nation have used an online networking system to expand their social horizons, and when the site hit UA last month, students followed suit.

The facebook, an online directory that helps college students connect through social networks, launched at the UA on Sept. 24.

After a week, about 2,000 UA students had registered at www.thefacebook.com, said Chris Hughes, a spokesman for the site.

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Once registered, a student can create an online profile, which can include a picture and variety of personal information, like what classes and clubs a student is involved in, a student's interests and his or her contact information.

After students establish a profile, they can create a list of friends who are registered on the site. Site members can post messages to each other and ask any person in the system to be their friend with the click of a mouse, according to the site.

Students say they use the site to find other UA students who have similar activities, to communicate with their established circles of friends and to reconnect with friends from high school.

The site features a search engine through which you can seek out student profiles for specific areas of interest.

For example, Matt Van Horn, a business junior, has "Fight Club" listed as one of his favorite movies. By clicking on the movie title, he can find every other UA student who likes "Fight Club" as long as he or she is registered on thefacebook.com.

Nicolas Bobroff, a communications sophomore, said it's now much easier to find people with similar hobbies and interests at the UA.

"It's a good way to meet people if you are not in a fraternity," Bobroff said.

However, students say thefacebook.com is popular among fraternities and sororities.

"There was an e-mail put out on my fraternity listserv (about the face book)," said Joseph Abi-ad, a communications senior and member of Phi Kappa Psi. "Now about 25 percent of the frat (is registered)."

Lauren Baldi, a pre-business sophomore, and Katie Bruhn, an undeclared freshman, both pledging for separate sororities, said they joined the site after hearing about it from other girls in their sororities.

Bruhn said although only a small number of girls in her sorority are registered so far, she said she thinks that number will grow.

Baldi said the site is a great way to connect to people in her classes.

Rebecca Bloomfield, a voice performance freshman, said she uses the face book to connect with friends she has made on campus.

"Now I have a way to contact people in my dorm," Bloomfield said.

While some students say they are networking with their peers at UA, some are reuniting with friends from their past.

To reconnect with high school friends, students can search the facebook nation-wide to find students who graduated from the same high school.

David Lukes, a creative writing freshman, said he left high school thinking it would be difficult to keep in touch with friends who planned to go to colleges all over the country.

When the facebook hit the UA, he said it changed his perspective.

"It's an easy way to connect with high school friends that you thought you would never see again," Lukes said.

Van Horn said he had a similar experience.

"I went to a small high school in Los Angeles where I knew everyone, (and) the facebook allowed me to get back in contact with people I had not seen since graduation," he said.

Thefacebook.com began in February when Mark Zuckerburg, a student at Harvard University, came up with the idea to create "a universal online database with an interactive social networking interface," Hughes said.

Zuckerburg and four of his friends, including Hughes, worked for several weeks developing the site, Hughes said.

"After a few weeks of work and many late-night dorm-room conversations with the rest of us... the facebook was released at Harvard," Hughes said.

The facebook eventually spread to more than 100 colleges and universities across the nation, according to the site.

"On the entire network there are 367,344 members," Hughes said.

Hughes said the facebook's popularity among college students has grown because the site is so fun and useful.

"Different students use the site in different ways. It's a reference tool, a means for communication, and a fun site on the Internet," Hughes said.



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