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by Mike Zazaian September 26, 2006 - 12:00pm, No Comments

Earth, the new Facebook market

Once exclusive only to those concerned with midterms and frat parties, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook today opened registration to everyone on the globe.

When it was founded in 2004, the Facebook was much sought after for its exclusive, college-only atmosphere. College students couldn’t be bothered by parents or younger siblings. Indeed, it was a vessel cut off from the rest of the universe, very much like a college campus itself. Sign-up was eligible only to those with a university e-mail address, making it free and easy to distribute pictures, party invitations and acute personal information without a substantial worry of the information being misused by non-academians.

Exclusivity of the facebook began to break down when on February 27th, 2006, college students were allowed to invite high school friends to the Facebook, ushering in the much dreaded little brother factor. Many Facebook users complained, but Zuckerberg said that it was a much sought after feature, dismissed the complaints, and went on with business as usual. Then two weeks ago Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be opened up to the world, sorting users not only by universities, but by geographical locations. College students kicked, and screamed, and petitioned and ironically started up groups on Facebook to express opposition to the move, but it all fell on deaf ears.

This morning Facebook opened up to everybody, everywhere, joining the ranks of MySpace as another social networking for everyone site. But in the eyes of those students who were there for the birth and glory of the Facebook era, the golden years are gone. Facebook will continue on and evolve in a very different way, and with an substantially larger user base will certainly grow by leaps and bounds. It will never, however, achieve the co-ed mystique that once made it so special.

But in fairness, Facebook has been facing a major overhaul for some time. After Facebook announced its news feed service a few weeks a go, students went haywire when every single profile change, desireable or otherwise, was broadcast to everybody in their network of friends. Ardent opposition was raised, sparking a group called Students Against Facebook that grew to over 700,000 members within the first two days of its existence. Zuckerberg relented, adding some privacy features, but still the news feed remained.

Ever moving forward, Facebook began talks with Yahoo over a $1 billion purchase. Yahoo, looking for its own social networking site after the disaster of its Yahoo 360 campaign, turned to Facebook. Still involved in talks over a purchase agreement, if Facebook were to be taken over by Yahoo it would inherit the same global network as its new owner. The point? Regardless of whether Facebook itself chose to be all-inclusive, it would have happened eventually. While the couple years of Facebook in its infancy were special, a multi-million dollar endeavor like Facebook simply could’t withstand the restraints of such a small user base for so long. At some point the number of those on the outside looking in significantly overwhelmed those on the inside, and gatekeeper Zuckerberg couldn’t keep them out if he wanted to.