On campus, they've grown accustomed to thefacebook.com

Pop Culture

December 12, 2004|By Tara Weiss | Tara Weiss,HARTFORD COURANT

Interested college students no longer have to coyly ask friends if a particularly attractive classmate is single. The information might well be available at thefacebook.com.

The site is the latest craze to hit college campuses.

It's an online, interactive directory that connects college students through similar interests and classes. It also functions as a personal Web page of sorts, where students can include photos, relationship status, phone numbers and Instant Messenger screen names. And it's only available to those who have a university e-mail account.

Created by a group of Harvard University roommates in February, thefacebook.com has become so popular, it's not unusual for students to peruse it for hours.

Like Google, it's become a verb.

"I'll come home with friends after meeting someone and say, `Oh, let's Facebook them,'" says Krista Yankowski, a University of Connecticut marketing major.

When it hit UConn in October, Yankowski says it "spread like wildfire." There are 293 schools on the site, including the University of Maryland, and more than 1 million members.

By logging in, members can search for any other connected student at their school. They can connect to another university only if they're invited by someone from that school.

One useful feature is the connection that students have to other members in their classes. If you lose biology notes, you can message someone else in your class for a copy.

The site was created after roommates Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes heard that Harvard planned to create a global Face Book. (The university produces Face Books for each dorm.)

"Mark [said], `Why don't I program a Web site that is cooler, and students can control the information they want to put up?' " says Hughes. Moskovitz and Zuckerberg took the year off from school to work on the site in the San Francisco area.

There are questions swirling about whose idea the site was. The creators of a similar site called ConnectU sued Zuckerberg in September, claiming he stole the model for the site when he worked for them as a sophomore. Hughes says, "Mark did about six hours of work for a site that was much different than the current ConnectU."

Hughes says the accusations by the founders of ConnectU "are absolutely unfounded. We are counter-suing."

The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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