It rose from a small dorm room at Harvard and evolved into a social networking juggernaut. It has over 800 million users (with 350 million of them using it on their phone right now); 900 million pages, events and groups; and over two billion likes, posts and comments. It’s Facebook.
“Facebook is a great way for me to keep in contact with family and friends,” said Heena Dani, a first-year BME major.
Doubea Pierre, a first-year CmPE major, agreed.
“I use Facebook to communicate with friends from Haiti. With Facebook, it’s free—I don’t have to use a calling card or worry about mail arriving on time,” Pierre said.
Some people, on the other hand, see Facebook as a way not only to keep up with old friends, but also to make new ones.
“It’s a great way to meet people I don’t know…I have a message board with a few people I met on Facebook where all of us discuss difficulties with homework and problems in class,” Pierre said. “If it weren’t for Facebook, there is no other way I could have found them.”
To others, however, Facebook is not as essential.
“It’s not that important to me, since you actually have to study in college,” said Katie Ledbetter, a second-year BIO major. “Only when I was trying to avoid studying, I’d get on Facebook…Sometimes I’ll get on Facebook, expecting to check one message, and waste the next two hours just browsing.”
Christian Pugh, a second-year ChBE major, also failed to regard Facebook as an essential part of his life.
“I just mainly use it to chat with other people,” Pugh said. “The only reason I got it was because everyone else has it and it’s easier to communicate with them through Facebook than through other [media].”
Facebook’s role as a major instrument of modern social interaction has also shifted trends in personal interactions.
“A pro of having a Facebook is becoming Facebook friends with someone before becoming their real friend,” Ledbetter said. “It gives you an idea of the type of person they are.”
Williams, however, had a more critical view.
“I realized I was missing out on conversations that build friendships outside of the Facebook world,” Williams said. “Generally you get to know someone by asking about their interests and what’s going on in their life, but I didn’t feel the need to ask someone that if I already knew these things [through Facebook].”
Facebook raises more serious concerns with privacy, especially with the new interfaces it regularly implements. Currently, the ticker raises the issue.
“Most of my friends have complained about [the ticker],” Pugh said.
“People can stalk you, like legitimately stalk you,” Pierre said. “I heard about this guy who liked this picture of a girl on Facebook, tracked her down and ended up murdering her.”
However, anomalies like these are no surprise for a multi-billion dollar giant whose reach extends to most corners of the globe. As Pierre said, it’s not official till it is “FBO” (FaceBook Official).