Web site allows students to make friends in the crowd

(U-WIRE) STANFORD, Calif. – Classes are being skipped. Work is being ignored. Students are spending hours in front of their computers in utter fascination. Thefacebook.com craze has swept through campus.

As of publishing time, there were over 2,981 Stanford University students registered on the newly launched http://www.thefacebook.com.

Modeled after social networking Web sites like Friendster.com, this site provides Stanford students with a network of their peers. Students post and browse pictures of themselves along with brief descriptions of anything from gender and year in school to music, movie tastes and relationship status.

The site was created by Harvard University sophomore Mark Zuckerberg. A double major in computer science and psychology, Zuckerberg wrote all of the code for the site by himself in one week.

“There has been a bunch of hype at Harvard for the last few months about the administration putting together an online facebook for everyone in the school,” Zuckerberg said. “I got tired of waiting for them to finally put it up, so I just threw this site together myself.”

He launched the site on Feb. 6 at Harvard, Feb. 25 at Columbia University, Feb. 26 at Stanford and Feb. 29 at Yale University. Zuckerberg picked schools where the site would generate a good response. He told a few of his friends at each of these schools to tell their friends about it, and the rest is history.

More than 7,000 people have signed up in less than a month at Harvard, including 85 percent of the school’s undergraduates. There have been over 1.5 million profile views. In less than a week at Stanford, users have viewed profiles almost 267,000 times. There are over 10,000 users registered at the four schools combined.

Zuckerberg wants to build a huge network throughout many schools. The next schools on his list are Cornell and Dartmouth, whose sites should be up by tomorrow.

“I know it sounds corny, but I’d love to improve people’s lives, especially socially,” Zuckerberg said.

It is costing Zuckerberg $85 per month to rent the server, with the money coming out of his own pocket. There are no immediate plans for recuperating the start-up costs.

“In the future we may sell ads to get the money back, but since providing the service is so cheap, we may choose to not do that for a while,” Zuckerberg said.

Some students are resisting thefacebook.com craze, calling it a waste of time.

“It’s a system designed for people who feel insecure and need to numerically quantify their friends,” said Stanford senior Alejandro Foung.