Facebook to Open to All

Facebook is again in the news, this time over opening the site (which was once only open to .edu addresses) to a wider community. As with the news feed fiasco, some students are up in arms. Protest groups have formed; two big concerns seem to be mommy checking up on them and stalkers. I confess to not having an account on Facebook and not knowing much about it, but it certainly seems like they’re making their users very angry.

2 thoughts on “Facebook to Open to All

  1. Marc, like you, I don’t have a Facebook account, but I have spent some time in Facebook (an administrative colleague allowed me to use his account to explore and learn more) poking around. One thing that I did think was valuable about Facebook in comparison to MySpace was that it offered individualized communities for higher education institutions – and of course students can invite in friends from other IHEs as they desire. With respect to librarians (and their libraries) developing profiles on Facebook I wonder if making the network public – and therefore more like MySpace – has a negative impact on the premise of a library presence in a student social network. Does it dilute the somewhat more “intimate” feel of a network for your institution within the larger network? While I’m still not entirely sold on the value of librarian profiles within social networks (there are mixed reports on whether it makes any sort of impact on students), I’d be more inclined to think that a profile in a much larger public network (like MySpace) reduces the power of a library presence. This hasn’t entirely shaken out yet – and once again Facebook may withdraw this plan – but if they do go ahead perhaps the protests will reinforce the need to allow users to create private communities within the larger one. On the other hand, that sort of thinking might completely defeat the entire point of a social network.

  2. As a fairly recent library school grad, I was able to get in on the Facebook craze while in graduate school. I enjoy using it to keep up with friends from both grad school and undergrad, as well as the unexpected but pleasant result of being able to keep up with some college-aged relatives that I like would have had little contact with otherwise.

    However, I don’t use MySpace or Friendster and probably never will, because I don’t like the idea of the average person (or potential employer!) being able to see my personal information.

    I do think that Facebook users need to come to grips with the fact that, even if they do not allow access by region, more and more people will be able to access Facebook if continues to exist. Whereas, right now, most people over the age of 25 probably don’t have a Facebook account, Facebook account users will age and will be able to continue using their accounts if they so choose. Also, anyone who didn’t previously have an account, but has had their interest piqued by all of this controversy, can get one “retroactively” if they have the alumni email accounts offered by so many schools.

    In short, Facebook will grow no matter what they decide to do about regional access. Already there are hundreds more schools involved than there were when I joined Facebook less than two years ago. I prefer the way it is now, with much more tightly controlled access, but if access is widened, I’ll simply remove personal information such as my phone number and where I work.

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