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Harvard Bonds on Facebook Website

Over 4,300 subscribers schmooze on new student-made website

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Daniel J. Paisley ’02 said that he has been encouraging his friends to register on thefacebook.com since he joined last week.

“I joined the website to maintain connections to the school and to old friends,” Paisley wrote in an e-mail. “It also seemed like a fun alternative to Friendster, mostly because of the private-club feel of the Harvard-only site.”

He added that the list has drawbacks as well.

“Of course, there’s also the touchy issue of deleting connections to friends with whom relations have soured,” Paisley said.

Besides students and alumni, some members of the faculty have also joined thefacebook.com.

Teaching Assistant in Germanic Languages and Literatures Geraldine A. Grimm, one of the teachers who signed up for the website, said much of the faculty is prejudiced against the site.

“When I mentioned to some of my peers that I had joined, suggesting they might try it out too, the reaction was unanimous: ‘But that’s an undergraduate site!’” Grimm wrote in an e-mail. “One of my colleagues scoffed at the notion, chastising me for posting my profile and picture. He could not see the merit in being friends with a ‘younger’ person, which saddened me.”

Grimm said she hoped that thefacebook.com could unite the campus—and a provide a needed sense of community.

“After checking out the site, I was impressed by the all-inclusive nature of a Friendster-style Harvard site that brings undergrads, grads, alums, faculty and staff together,” she wrote.

Director of Residential Computing Kevin S. Davis ’98 said that the popularity of thefacebook.com will not ruin the College’s plans to create an official Internet facebook by the end of the spring semester.

“I don’t view the website as [potentially] being in competition. This is an FAS website, and there is clearly a need for it. It will be an always online, institutional facebook,” he said.

Davis added that the two sites will have somewhat different functions. He said that the Harvard website would be current, comprehensive database.

“We may not be replicating certain social features of interest from the third-party website,” he said. “I don’t at all mean to disparage the hard work of a Harvard student; I just think that the sites have very different goals.”

Zuckerberg said that he also thought that the Harvard site would serve different purpose than his website.

“My site is better in the sense that it’s more interesting to students. Harvard as an institution can’t touch the social networking stuff,” he said. “But we have roughly 55 percent of the student population, whereas Harvard will have 100 percent. [Thefacebook.com] is not as definitive as their website will be.”

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