After about a week of coding, Zuckerberg launched thefacebook.com last Wednesday afternoon. The website combines elements of a standard House face book with extensive profile features that allow students to search for others in their courses, social organizations and Houses.
“Everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard,” Zuckerberg said. “I think it’s kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it. I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week.”
As of yesterday afternoon, Zuckerberg said over 650 students had registered use thefacebook.com. He said that he anticipated that 900 students would have joined the site by this morning.
“I’m pretty happy with the amount of people that have been to it so far,” he said. “The nature of the site is that each user’s experience improves if they can get their friends to join it.”
But Director of Residential Computing Kevin S. Davis ’98 said that the creation of a Harvard facebook was not as far off as Zuckerberg predicted.
“There is a project internally with computer services to create a facebook,” Davis said. “We’ve been in touch with the Undergraduate Council, and this is a very high priority for the College. We have every intention of completing the facebook by the end of the spring semester.”
Davis said that the principle complication with the creation of an official facebook was figuring out how to design an interface so that directory information could not easily be compiled without authorization.
Zuckerberg’s site allows people with Harvard e-mail addresses to upload their pictures and personal and academic information. Just as with the popular website Friendster, which Zuckerberg said was a model for his new website, members can search for people according to their interests and can create an online network of friends.
Lisa H. Feigenbaum ’04 said that she joined thefacebook.com because it provided an open alternative to the password-protected House facebooks.
“If there was a situation where you needed to identify someone for an organization or a meeting, it would be very helpful,” she said.
Zuckerberg said that the most innovative feature of the site is that people can search for other students in their classes so that they can branch out to form friendships and study groups.
“If you’re in a class where you don’t vknow anyone and want to ask somebody for help, this is a way to find out the names of people in that class,” said thefacebook.com user Roberto C. Acosta ’05.
Zuckerberg said that the extensive search capabilities are restricted by a myriad of privacy options for members who do not want everyone to be able to look up their information.
“There are pretty intensive privacy options,” he said. “You can limit who can see your information, if you only want current students to see your information, or people in your year, in your house, in your classes. You can limit a search so that only a friend or a friend of a friend can look you up. People have very good control over who can see their information.”
Zuckerberg said that he hoped the privacy options would help to restore his reputation following student outrage over facemash.com, a website he created in the fall semester.