How two web meeting places differ
People have been communicating on the Internet since e-mail became available to the public in 1988 with the invention of the program Eudora. America Online introduced Instant Messenger in 1997. A preferred mode of communication among many young people, it is currently the world's largest instant messaging service, with more than 42 million users.
But, beyond direct person-to-person messages, the Internet features many web sites that help people communicate. Dating web sites such as eharmony.com match people who appear to be compatible. Web sites such as craigslist.com offer online classified advertising organized by city. Craigslist visitors can find everything from a job to a digital camera.
Facebook and MySpace, two relatively new web sites, are online personal profile databases, one for students and one for anybody. On each, visitors can keep track of their friends by receiving birthday updates, party invites, and notices when friends update their profile information.
A recent Internet phenomenon, Facebook was founded in February of 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes, and Dustin Moskovitz at Harvard College. It began solely as a Harvard database but quickly expanded to Columbia University, Stanford University, and other Ivy League colleges. By November 2004, there were at least one million registered users and more than 800 schools registered. By the spring of 2005, Facebook had expanded to state community colleges and overseas to international schools. Last fall, Mr. Zuckerberg also made a separate version for high school students.
MySpace was created in 2003 by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe. It is currently one of the top 10 Internet sites, according to answers.com. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp bought MySpace in 2005. With 70 million members as of this past May, it is estimated that 270,000 new members sign up daily. MySpace's latest venture supports videos, which are very popular among new bands that set up MySpace pages to promote themselves.
Facebook is the school version of MySpace.com. It is open to anyone with a college e-mail address. A typical Facebook profile consists of one's name, photograph, and as much personal information the user chooses to include, from political stance to relationship status. While enrolled in school, there is a section for a class schedule. By clicking on a chosen class, you can view the other students in the class and, if their privacy settings allow, their profiles and pictures as well.
The basic layout for MySpace is similar, but on MySpace there is more to choose from when designing the page. From wallpaper with beach scenes to Bob Marley, there are flavors for everyone. Some choose to educate the MySpace community about themselves by answering questions for a generic survey in their profile. Questions range from "Coke or Pepsi?" to "What's the most daring thing you have ever done?" One can also choose a song to play in the background while others view a profile.
Both sites have a "friend request" system. Before you are "friends" with another user, you or they must ask first. You can either accept their request or not, and there is no notification if you do not accept.
An interesting part of Facebook is its "Groups" section, where one can make or join groups that they feel a part of. "My School Has a Lazy River and Yours Doesn't!" is a popular Boston University Group with 4,369 members. For all Boston-area college students, there's "Marathon Monday is Better Than Christmas," which boasts 706 members.
The two sites have become common modes of communication, displaying the user's Instant Messenger screen name if desired, and allowing one to send and receive Facebook or MySpace messages, similar to e-mail. There is also an "Events" section, where people can list an event, invite people, and reveal the confirmed guest list.
A relatively new feature for Facebook is photo albums, where users can upload photographs onto their profile, and name, or "tag," the people in their pictures. By clicking on a "tagged" person, one can see a list of all the photographs that person is in on Facebook.
On both sites, there is a "wall" section, which is a public message board on each individual's profile. Along with the photo album option, privacy settings can be made so that only one's friends can see them.
Facebook is funded in part by a new feature called "flyers," or paid ads, which can consist of anything from a birthday announcement to a final review study session. They come in packages from 10,000 flyers shown daily for $5, to 50,000 for $25. Facebook also has advertising contracts with companies such as Microsoft and Apple. MySpace has advertisers, such as onlinerewardcenter.com, where you play a game to win a free laptop or cell phone, but must purchase something to get the "reward."
To learn more about the web sites, visit www.facebook.com, and www.MySpace.com.