Thursday, September 14, 2006

Facebook plans to open its membership further

from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Thursday, September 14, 2006

Facebook users are protesting plans by the wildly popular online social network to open its membership to all computer users, on campuses and off.

Reports of the expansion first emerged on Tuesday, and students have already started using the site to complain about the proposed change: Facebook groups with names like "Don't Let Facebook Go Public" and "Facebook for Students Only!" already boast hundreds of members.
When it was founded in 2004 by a group of students at Harvard University, Facebook allowed only people with valid college e-mail addresses to register -- a restriction that gave the site an air of privacy missing from broader social networks like Friendster and MySpace.

In the past year, the network has quietly loosened its registration requirements. First Facebook allowed high-school students to sign up, as long as they were invited to do so by a member of the site. More recently the network opened its membership to employees at a handful of well-known companies, including Apple, Microsoft, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

But neither of those expansions changed the perception, common among college students, that Facebook was something of a private clubhouse on the Web. Many college officials have said that students continue to post contact information and incriminating pictures on the site without considering that the material may be viewed by authorities or potential employers.