When I started pursuing writing back in 2005, I knew almost nothing about journalism, and what was then called The Facebook was brand new (and available exclusively) to college students. We had no idea how the social media platform would come to define our generation.
I thought it was pretty cool and I wanted to write about it for my practicum writing for Liberty University’s student newspaper, the Liberty Champion, so I sent an email to The Facebook, which eventuated in some back-and-forth with cofounder Chris Hughes. I’m still trying to locate the PDF of that issue of the paper (it seems I’ve found every single one I either appeared in or designed except this one), but want to share with you what I wrote then, despite how it reveals how much of a novice I was.
Below is the unedited draft of what was published in the 2005 fall semester.
Marcelo A. Quarantotto Jr.
As of April 2005, LibertyUniversity has been overtaken by one word: Facebook. The Facebook is an internet-based networking phenomenon that has become somewhat of a craze among Liberty’s student body, as well as being utilized by various faculty members.
Back in winter of 2004, the gears in the head of Harvard Student Mark Zuckerberg began to turn as ideas formulated to what The Facebook is today. Zuckerberg, the founder, eventually joined forces with Dustin Moskovitz, officially known as “Destroyer;” Andrew McCollum, called “Lockbox;” and “Pressguy,” Chris Hughes.
Hughes states in an email that the original vision “was a pretty simple concept: to create a universal online database for college students with social-networking functionality.” He explains how Zuckerberg wanted to create an alternative to the standard college yearbook that often leaves students disappointed and/or embarrassed, and instead give students something that they can customize to their own personal predilection.
During The Facebook’s initial release on Wednesday, February 4th, 2004, “it was a project by and for Harvard students,” claims Chris Hughes, “but because over 6,000 Harvard kids signed up within the first three weeks, it seemed ridiculous not to open it up to a few other schools.”
As it stands today, The Facebook has about 832 colleges and universities registered, which includes about 3.6 million students, teachers, alumni and the like. On the website’s “About” page, it describes it as “an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges.”
What is the future for The Facebook? Chris Hughes claims within the next few months there will be right of use for every college and university in the nation, and that the staff of The Facebook will continue to add “new functionalities and features…improving our users’ overall experience on the site.
The Facebook gives its users the capability to search people in their schools by name, gender, graduating year, interests and many other classifications. There is a multitude of other functions offered such as looking into how certain people are connected to each other and seeing who is enrolled in the same classes.
Junior Christopher Bowman, a Broadcast Video major, expresses his satisfaction with The Facebook. Although he doesn’t spend as much time on the site as he did when he first registered, he still says, “The Facebook is great for keeping in touch with friends over the summer break.”
Another Liberty student, Pastoral Ministries major Jason Drinnen, uses his account for more than just keeping touch with friends. “The Facebook is a bridge for ministry,” he states, “It is good in evangelism for reaching our peers for Christ.”
One comical and good-natured activity found on The Facebook is poking. Poking is a feature added to the website that has no real purpose other than sheer amusement. One student can “poke” another by pressing the link that says “Poke Him!” or, “Poke Her!” under another student’s profile picture. The other user will receive a message later with a picture of a finger that says “You have been Poked,” and will be given the option to “poke back.”
“It’s kinda cool when you get poked and you see the picture of the finger,” says Senior Tim Hawks who is double-majoring in Business and Psychology. “It’s a fun way of interacting with your friends when you don’t see them much….especially when you get in a poking war.”
The Facebook will also give users reminders of when another person’s birthday is. Isabel SoriaGalvarro, a Sophomore Family and Child Development major, told The Champion that mass amounts of people were giving here birthday congratulations, even people that she didn’t know!
The capability to find people with common interests is a very prominent theme of The Facebook. For each college, there is the ability to create groups of any kind, and students can join most groups of their choosing. Communications Faculty member Mr. James Pickering is one of LibertyUniversity’s teachers that frequently uses The Facebook. Mr. Pickering confirms the usefulness of it when he says that it “allows students to communicate who have like interests.”
While Mr. Pickering, and other faculty members, enjoys The Facebook as a worthwhile tool for communication, he shares some concerns for misuse. “Let’s not promote or be proud of the negative parts of our university.” Apparently, there are some groups of questionable ethical content.
So, as a message to the incoming freshman, log-on to http://www.TheFacebook.com, get connected, start poking and mind your manners.