Thefacebook.coms arrival at St. Olaf came as a surprise to administrators as well as to students. Dean of Students Greg Kneser said, "I am aware of thefacebook, but was not involved in any decision to approve it."
St. Olaf Information and Instructional Technologies (IIT) were also not involved in a decision to bring thefacebook.com to St. Olaf.
"Thefacebook is not affiliated in any way with St. Olaf," Craig Rice, associate director of IIT, said. "We did not sign up for it, do not support it, do not endorse it, and do not provide any information to it."
Rice did offer students some advice.
Thefacebook.com offers its members the opportunity to be a part of an online college social network by creating a profile page with all sorts of miscellaneous information, such as ones classes, interests, favorite music and quotes, as well as the standard name, birthday, address, etc. Users also post pictures of themselves, or, unlike the online St. Olaf directory, anything else they choose, as long as they "certify that this is not pornography."
Once a profile is created, students can search their own college as well as hundreds of other colleges and universities in the nation for names of their friends or acquaintances. After locating the desired individual, one may request to be his or her "friend." An e-mail is then sent to the "friendee," who must confirm that you are indeed their friend.
Once someone is a friend, one will have full access to that friend's profile and can view names and pictures of that friend's friends, but not their profiles. After this process is complete, their picture appears on the bottom of your profile, listed under "Your Friends. One cannot view the profile of anyone from another school without them confirming one as a friend. However, anyone at St. Olaf can freely view the profiles of all St. Olaf students on thefacebook.com.
Thefacebook.com also lets its members create online groups and clubs based on common interests or actual organizations, which can be joined by invitation only or free to everyone to join, depending on the preference of the administrators of the group. Clubs provide one full access to all other members profiles, regardless of "friend" status.
So far, thefacebook.com seems to be a success with students.
"I enjoy being able to reconnect with friends from high school that I havent talked to in a few years," Emily Lindo '07 said. "I find it highly amusing to see how my friends at other colleges are keeping themselves entertained."
Kaitlin Gemar 07 feels that she has become completely addicted to thefacebook.com.
"It eats your soul," she said. "It also kind of feels like stalkernet on steroids."
Some students, like Jim Haas 07, have decided not to join thefacebook.com.
"No, just no," he said when asked if he would join. "I wont do it!" Jim said that he recognizes its time consuming nature and does not want to be "sucked into that."
Love it or leave it, thefacebook.coms presence at St. Olaf is undeniable. Over the course of a few short days, many students saw their "friends" rise from around 10 to 100. Perhaps as St. Olaf adjusts to its "stalkernet on steroids" and the fever dies down, students will be able to evaluate thefacebook.coms long term consequences.