things you should know about...
Paul is nearing the end o his third year as un under-graduate in the School o Agrology. He plans to startgraduate school ater he nishes his bachelor’s degree,and his advisors encourage him to spend the summerlearning about institutions that oer graduate programsin land management, his area o interest.Paul does some research and identies hal a dozen uni-versities that oer graduate programs that sound goodto him. The Agrology Club at his university maintains agroup on Facebook, and he browses the members o the group, looking or people who attend any o thoseinstitutions. He nds people at our o the universitiesand contacts them, indicating his interest in the gradu-ate programs at their schools. Through those people,he connects with students at the other two institutionsalso, as well as several aculty who teach in the variousprograms.One o the graduate programs Paul thinks might be agood t is hosting an open house, which they advertiseon Facebook. Paul adds the event to his prole, wherehe can also see others who plan to attend. Three daysbeore the event, the organizers have to change thetime that it will start. Because Paul added his cell phonenumber to his Facebook account, he receives a textmessage on his cell phone alerting him to the schedulechange. When he goes to the event, he meets many o the people whose pictures he has seen on Facebookand with whom he has been corresponding. They areglad to meet Paul in person and talk to him about sum-mer internship opportunities the institution oers. Ater the open house, two o the students and oneaculty member rom that institution send Paul regular“pokes,” which remind him how well he got along withthem and that they would like to see him study at theiruniversity. Through Facebook, as well as phone callsand e-mail, Paul stays in touch with the agrology com-munity at that institution and decides to pursue a sum-mer program there.
What is it?
Facebook is a social networking site where users interact througha constantly evolving set o networks based on college or univer-sity, riendships, interest groups, avorite movies, and other criteria.Since ELI rst wrote about the site in August 2006 (see <http:// www.educause.edu/LibraryDetailPage/666?ID=ELI7017>), it hasundergone signicant changes. Foremost among these changes isthat anyone can now join: users no longer need to be aliated—asa student, alum, aculty, or sta—with an institution o higher educa-tion. Where Facebook networks ormerly centered on colleges anduniversities, the site now oers networks based on location (cities ortowns), workplace, high school, or college or university. Facebookoers a long and growing list o eatures, as well as tools to tie thesite’s unctions into other Web-based applications. With the addedunctionality, Facebook users have ar more power to create andshare online identities and to use the site to locate and interact withother users. Added to this fexibility is what some believe is one o the industry’s strongest, most detailed privacy policies, one thatputs unprecedented control into users’ hands to determine whocan see their inormation and what they can do with it.
Who’s doing it?
Some estimates indicate that upwards o 80–90 percent o U.S.college students have proles on Facebook. At the same time, thechanges to the site have drawn in tens o thousands o new usersseeking networking opportunities based on personal or proes-sional interests or on where they live. In addition, many teenagers—who tended to avor MySpace—have begun creating Facebookproles. Given that Facebook is the preerred social networkamong college students, allowing high school students to joinmeans that by the time they enroll as college reshmen, manystudents will already have years o experience with Facebook.When they arrive on a college or university campus, all they needto do is join that institution’s network.
How does it work?
Facebook unctions on a relationship model, based on “riends” andnetwork membership. When users register, they select a categoryo network, such as workplace or college, and then choose rom alist o available networks in that category. Users can be memberso multiple networks and, with some restrictions, can change net-works. Based on mutual agreement, users can become “riends,”and this designation dictates how certain unctions work.