Soyeshin’s Blog

The Facebook Effect [ Newsweek cover]

Posted on: February 9, 2009

NEWSWEEK COVER: The Facebook Effect

The August, 20-27 double issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, August 13), “The Facebook Effect” looks at how Facebook, the wildly popular networking site is growing up and facing new challenges to become a fixture in the digital age; excerpts from the Newsweek/Kaplan “How to Get Into College Guide,” the “25 Hottest Schools;” and a look at what schools across the nation are doing to beef up security and improve student mental health. Plus: how IEDs are changing modern warfare. (PRNewsFoto/NEWSWEEK)


 Facebook has Revolutionized College Life and now it is out for the Rest of  the World
A Growing Number of Users are no Longer in College, but Facebook may not be the Perfect Tool for 
Non-Students Just yet

    NEW YORK, Aug. 12 /PRNewswire

Facebook revolutionized the way college students communicate with each other since its creation in 2004,
but it has also become a tool for people who are no longer students.
Facebook officials claim that more than half its 35 million active users
are not college students, and that by the end of this year less than 30
percent of Facebook users will sport college IDs.
    (Photo: )

     For the cover package featured in the August 20-27 double issue of
Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, August 13), Mark Zuckerberg, the
23-year-old Harvard dropout who started the site, recently met with Senior
Editor Steven Levy and explained that Facebook is (1) not a
social-networking site but a "utility," a tool to facilitate the
information flow between users and their compatriots, family members and
professional connections; (2) not just for college students, and (3) a
world-changing idea of unlimited potential. But the nub of his vision
revolves around a concept he calls the "social graph."
    As Zuckerberg describes it, the social graph is a mathematical
construct that maps the real-life connections between every human on the
planet. Each of us is a node radiating links to the people we know. "We
don't own the social graph," he says. "The social graph is this thing that
exists in the world, and it always has and it always will. It's really most
natural for people to communicate through it, because it's with the people
around you, friends and business connections or whatever. What [Facebook]
needed to do was construct as accurate of a model as possible of the way
the social graph looks in the world. So once Facebook knows who you care
about, you can upload a photo album and we can send it to all those people
    Newsweek reports that 1 million people a week are flocking to Facebook.
And the international push is only beginning. Zuckerberg told Levy that
Facebook is the top Web site in Canada, and that the geographic network
with the most Facebookers is London. While the site is now available only
in English, Zuckerberg says that versions in other languages will appear
soon, making his goal of having Facebook become the center of online life,
appear possible. But the question remains, can Facebook be as much a
presence in the life of graduates and geezers as it is to college students?
Zuckerberg can't see why not. "Adults still communicate with the people
they're connected with."
    Despite the need to communicate, Facebook may not be the perfect
networking tool for many non-students just yet. At this point, much of the
grammar of the site (as well as much of the first wave of applications) are
still tilted toward student life. David Rodnitzky, 35, a San Francisco
marketing executive, was having a fine time on Facebook until he installed
a widget called "My Questions." Unbeknownst to him, it sent out a query to
people on his friend list, specifically: "Do you kiss on the first date?"
"Here I was, asking some of my company's venture capitalists, along with
some of my guy friends, if they kiss on the first date," says Rodnitzky.
"Probably not the best way to interact." Nor is it clear whether grown-ups
embrace the new SuperPoke third-party application: instead of a mere poke
(the equivalent of saying "hey you" online) you can bite, slap, bump,
spank, lick, grope or head-butt friends, acquaintances and, uh, business
    Zuckerberg and his team feel certain that the Facebook idea will trump
all these concerns. He's built a superhigh-IQ engineering team at the Palo
Alto, Calif., Facebook headquarters. "Absolutely yes," says Facebook's COO,
Owen Van Natta, to the question of whether it will change the world of 30-,
40- and 50- year-olds the way it has on campus. He then amends the question
to conform to the company's new unofficial, and weirdly defensive, motto:
it's not just students. "Facebook did not change college life, but it
changed the lives of the early adopters ... many of whom were in college.
We're entering a phase where every single day we have more people over 25
entering Facebook than any other demographic. So, absolutely, yes."
    The cover package also includes the debate over why people love and
hate Facebook. Correspondent Kurt Soller who has been a member since his
last year in high school says he loves Facebook because the site has
allowed him the freedom to build new relationships while still remaining in
touch with old friends. On the opposite side of the love/ hate debate,
Correspondent Sarah Kliff writes that although she understands the value of
Facebook, she hates it. Kliff writes that the constant monitoring and
updating takes up too much time that can be spent on more important things
and it forces users to obsess over "dull details" rather than focus on
connecting with others.
    (Read cover story at

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