New online social connection started

Jared Roddy

It’s spreading like wildfire, and it’s only just begun.

Thefacebook.com, an online connections and social network Web site, was launched Sunday at the University and is averaging 200 new users daily.

Neuroscience sophomore Chris Remy could be credited for speeding up Minnesota’s inclusion to the network. Remy said he was talking with a friend in California when she told him about the site. He e-mailed Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, who designed and launched it in February. Remy asked him to bring the service here, and it was operational almost immediately.

Remy then sent out a blanket e-mail to approximately 150 people to inform them of the site, said.

The site allows users to post pictures, profiles, interests and to join groups. The site is now operational at more than 150 schools.

There is no charge to sign up, but students who are not at one of the universities included in the network cannot use the Web site.

The site allows users to join online interest groups or connect with organizations and classmates. Groups are structured around interests, residences and associations, and vary from “The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too,” to the “American Institute of Architecture Students.”

Users can also find classmates. The site prompts members to enter their class names and course numbers. It then cross-references all the members who are in the same classes and makes them available at a click. Students can find class notes or pass them.

As of Thursday afternoon, the system held more than 600 University students, a number that is still increasing.

Though some students make excuses to use the site, many said staying connected is the primary reason.

“It’s a great way to let everyone know what you’re up to without sending out a mass e-mail,” political science sophomore Katie White said. “I like checking up on my friends in between classes or when I do laundry.”

Kevin Jargo, a biomedical engineering junior, had a friend tell him to sign on. He said he’s skeptical of the site’s usefulness, though.

“Its like a big address book to me; it seems like it’s the same thing as AOL instant messaging,” Jargo said. “I don’t really understand its purpose. Is it a yearbook? Is it a contact list? I don’t know if I need another contact list.”

Sophomore Jeff Remakel, who began using the system Monday, said he uses it mostly to keep in touch with old friends.

“I use it to check up on my friends at other colleges,” Remakel said. “I don’t use it for people at the ‘U’ because I see them every day.”

By inputting the name of their high schools, users are able to locate former classmates at other colleges as well.

“I have friends all over the place,” Remy said. “Boston, Johns Hopkins; I didn’t even know they went there until I logged on.”

The site uses message boards to foster communication, rather than chatting windows, and, Remakel said, he wishes an instant messaging service were available. He also said some unsolicited e-mails had him a little concerned.

“I’ve gotten messages from people I don’t know, and that’s kind of scary because they see all my info,” Remakel said. “But if you’re smart about (it), then I think you’re fine.”