Facebook Open To High School Students
If you haven’t already heard, MySpace.com’s biggest rival, Facebook.com, is now open to high school students. Billing itself as a “social networking service,” Facebook (formerly “The Facebook”) was primarily the place to see and be seen for college students. But in September 2005, the founders created a high school version of the site, describing the move as “the next logical thing.”
Originally, the high school site was kept separate from the college version, but by February 2006, Facebook began allowing college students to add high school students as friends (and vice versa) due to popular request.
By December 2005, Facebook – which takes its name from the paper facebooks that many colleges produce for students and faculty – boasted membership from more than 25,000 high schools in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
In addition to Facebook’s expansion to high schools, there has also been a gradual increase in the number of features the site offers. Where once there was only room for members to post a photo and brief biographical information, now members can enjoy:
• “Groups” – from fraternities and sororities to common interest groups
• Invites, party listings, RSVPs
• The “Wall” message board
• Extensive profiles
• A site search
• Request and confirmation of “friends”
• “Poking” – used to gain the attention of someone
• Up to 50 megabytes of photos
• The “Pulse” page – statistics and trends on users that are updated daily
• “Friend Details” – allowing members to state how the user knows someone
• “Facebook Mobile” – the ability to use some Facebook features from a cell phone
In May 2006, Facebook began allowing employees of 1,000 companies and nonprofits to join the site in an effort to retain students after they graduate. (Previously members had to have an “.edu” email address.) Some of these include Pepsi, Microsoft and Teach for America.
The site is continuing to grow and, as of December 2005, Facebook was the seventh most trafficked site on the Web and the No. 1 site for photos. No surprise, considering that, according to TechCrunch, approximately 85% of students (at the colleges involved) have a profile on the site and of those who are signed up, 60% log on daily. Not bad for a site that just started in February 2004! In fact, the site is so popular that in March 2006, BusinessWeek reported rumors that the company – started by two Harvard sophomores – was looking for buyers…at a cool $2 billion.