The world of poking and wall posts has now been opened up to everyone as the facebook creators decided to allow anyone to join Tuesday morning.
The change was a touchy topic for a while before users were notified that all their friends could now use the site.
“We are planning on opening up facebook so that you don’t have to be affiliated with a college, high school, or place of business to get on,” creator Chris Hughes said in an online chat with college editors on Sept. 14. “We’re doing this because one of the top suggestions we get from our users is ‘make it so that my other friends can get on.’”
This change has created concerns among many users who think it will be too much like MySpace. But Hughes and co-creator Zuckerberg remain adamant that it will only be a positive change.
In a Cal Poly survey, seventy-two of the 100 students surveyed said they have an account. Eighty percent of those with a facebook account do not think that the site should be opened up to everyone.
“I’m an avid MySpace and facebook user already,” said civil engineering senior Alex Ubaldo. “I don’t think it will change me at all. I have friends on both networks.”
Some students worry that making facebook public will take away from the student base.
“I think it’s good if you want to have connections with more people, but I think it could open up a lot of problems,” psychology senior Laura Reed said.
Users do have the option of making their profile viewable to only their friends or people in their network, so the new change would not have an effect on them.
“(The change) would be good, but it would also kind of suck,” said civil engineering junior Justin Deperoni. “I think it should just be the colleges and the junior colleges. Those are mainly the people that should be using it. Not 40-year-old stalkers, (like) on MySpace.”
With so many people opposed to the expanding network for the site, why did the creators decide to make this decision?
“The idea here is to allow everyone to get their friends on the site. A lot of people have friends who don’t have a .edu email address, but they still want them on the site,” Zuckerberg said. “Since our goal is to help people get a sense of what’s going on with their friends, we want these people to be able to get on the site too.”
“The high schoolers are already coming in and creating problems,” said architectural engineering senior Marcela Opie. “Now anyone can go into network-wide discussions. It will be like any other chat-room.”
Others worry this is another opportunity for employers to visit applicants’ profiles before hiring. Since facebook allows more than 300 pictures and a lot of personal information to be posted, some fear they will have to censor what information they post. “They’re already doing it with MySpace,” Opie said.
Hughes and Zuckerberg said that they have to make good ad revenue to maintain their site, but it is not their primary focus.
“Facebook is a tool that more than just college students can use, so we want to let them use it,” Zuckerberg said. “If all we wanted to do was to make money, we’d put up more banner ads, but as you can see we’re not doing that.”
“I approve of some info,” said art and design junior Russell Shinpo. “But as far as my actions . when it becomes that detailed, it kind of feels like it’s a public record of my activities and I don’t want that on facebook.”
Although facebook has been opened up to everyone, it still offers many things that MySpace does not. There are many more pictures allowed, more information confined to a smaller space, no music in profiles to have to mute and a more personal connection with who is in the network.
As the seventh most frequently visited site on the Internet, facebook is trying to stay updated with the rapidly changing times while keeping its users happy and satisfied. The site recently added news feeds and mini feeds, which allow users to see all the changes their friends have made to their pages while only looking at their home page instead of searching around on everyone’s individual site.
“I don’t like the news feed, so I put all of my stuff on private,” Reed said. “I don’t like how everyone can see what I change.”
This change caused a rapid outcry among many users who felt that facebook was stalking them or making their information too public. Many upset users sent letters to Zuckerberg and Hughes.
“It’s really annoying,” Opie said of the feeds. “They have a lot of useless information. I don’t care if 200 of my friends break up with their boyfriends. If they are my friend, they’ll call me anyway.”
Zuckerberg and Hughes responded to the letters and added settings that allows users to control what information is made public. But some feel it still is not enough.
“The feed products make sense as the next evolution of facebook,” Zuckerberg said. “People generally use facebook to get a sense of what’s going on with the people around them and understand their world a little better. Up until (a few weeks ago), people had to browse around on the site and read through people’s profiles to get a sense of all this, but with these new products we can surface a lot of that information for people. It makes using facebook a lot more efficient for seeing what’s going on around you.”
While the new feeds do make it easier to get information, some users feel it goes over the top in the information it provides. In the days after the site added news and mini feeds, users had no way to censor what their latest activity was. Members now have the ability to privatize their settings but a lot of information remains open to their network and friends.
Hughes said that they have seen an increase in new accounts since the feeds were added. While some of these accounts are probably due to new students enrolling in college, he also believes the hype of the feed has generated more people to join as well.
“Some people have said they think the feeds are too much, but I think they just surface information that was already there in an easier way,” Zuckerberg said. “Over the past week, we’ve received a lot of feedback from people that they learned things about their friends that they would have otherwise missed. And since their friends put that information up for them to see, that seems like a good thing to me.”
Zuckerberg admits that his Web site made a mistake when it first added the feeds by not allowing any control over them. “We messed up,” he said.
To check out facebook, visit www.facebook.com.