First came thefacebook.com. Then came ConnectU. Now Harvard students have a third option for browsing the pictures and contact information of other undergraduates—the official Harvard College Facebook.
Released last Friday, the new online facebook includes only the bare essentials—students’ names, Harvard ID photos, contact information, concentrations and birthdays—but offers the most comprehensive list of Harvard students. Students can search for each other through any of these fields.
The idea for an official college facebook was first proposed by the Undergraduate Council and authored by council representative Andrew C. Stillman ’06 last January prior to the creation of Mark Zuckerberg’s ’06-’07 thefacebook.com.
College administrators approved the proposal last spring, and then took steps to put it into operation over the summer.
“It’s a lot better than what we had a year ago,” Stillman said. “I would like to see more features, but even if none are added, I still think it is a great product.”
Director of residential computing Kevin S. Davis ’98, who is also a Crimson editor, said that while there are no current plans for expansion, he is open to suggestions.
“We are always curious to get feedback from our clients about what they like and dislike,” Davis said.
Davis also said that he does not view the new online college facebook and Zuckerberg’s thefacebook.com as competitors.
“We certainly didn’t launch this college facebook to compete in any way with thefacebook.com or to respond to thefacebook.com,” Davis said.
Stillman said the two online facebooks serve different purposes.
“thefacebook.com is good for social networking whereas if you just want to look somebody up, the new facebook site is more useful,” Stillman said.
While thefacebook.com and other websites require students to join, the official online facebook contains every undergraduate by default. To restrict the new facebook to the Harvard community, students must enter their eight-digit ID number and PIN to log on.
Director of Harvard Arts and Sciences Computer Services Frank Steen said that they worked hard to provide students with a useful resource without compromising the Family Education Rights Privacy Act.
“We tried to put up a facebook that would comply with privacy laws and requests and still give information to the community when people permitted it,” Steen said.
Last year, Zuckerberg was sent before the Administrative Board for unauthorized use of students’ ID photos on his website, facemash.com, a predecessor to thefacebook.com.
Davis said that students can remove information from their facebook profiles through the registrar’s website.
Zuckerberg, who has yet to review the website, said having an official college facebook was “totally sweet.”
“I am glad they finally got around to doing that,” Zuckerberg said. “I know this has been in the works for a while.”
—Staff Writer Evan M. Vittor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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