February 9, 2004

Friendster @ Cornell

Print More

Friendster.com, the newest trend in making friends and expanding friendship circles, is quickly gaining in popularity on the Internet. An online social networking service that connects its members for both friendship and dating purposes, Friendster allows its members to become a part of a private networking community where people can “link” their friends to other friends, eventually creating a web of new companions.

Friendster allows its members to create a personal profile, add up to five photos of themselves and to show feedback from other Friendsters about members.

According to its website, Friendster may soon be charging for some of its servies, “During the beta trial, Friendster is free. After the beta trial, basic membership will continue to be free, and some features will require a subscription.”

Alvin Lee ’06, a member of Friendster, posts information about himself on his personal profile and enjoys reading the profiles of his friends.

“You usually put your first name, age, where you live, your hometown, some of your interests, whether you’re single or not and a little blurb about yourself,” Lee said. “The point of the profile is not necessarily to get to know people since most of the people who look at it already know you anyway. The point is to make it funny or entertaining in some way.”

After looking at profiles and pictures, members of Friendster send and receive messages only with people connected to them through a series of mutual friends. Once a connection is made, members can contact the new acquaintances or ask a friend to introduce them.

“I have about five to ten of my close Cornell friends on my Friendster,” Lee added.

Lee said that Friendster can potentially be addicting.

“You have to experience it to really appreciate the intricate entertainment value of Friendster,” Lee said.

Prof. Jeff Hancock, communication, explained that Friendster has become a tool that is used for visualizing social networks and serves as a filter to introduce its members to other people related to their own personal interests.

Hancock said that he is not certain if students at Cornell are using Friendster as often as students at other universities.

“Friendster.com really took hold in cities because of the high density of people,” Hancock said. He believes college students in cities are more likely to use Friendster than students on a campus such as Cornell.

Some Friendster users have utilized this service to meet potential mates as well.

“In cities, the use of Friendster as a dating service has become a primary tool because it is easy to meet someone through a mutual friend and take a train to meet them,” Hancock said.

However, there can be an ambiguity between the dating and friendship portion of Friendster.

“When we make social networks in the same place, such as on Friendster, it is hard to maintain full conversations over long periods of time without having somewhere to go, eat and have fun,” Hancock explained.

Hancock believes this is why Friendster has become such a popular service in New York City and other major cities, where people can meet and go out together.

Jenna Odett ’07 has both friends and family outside of the Cornell community who signed up for Friendster to keep in touch with each other and meet potential partners.

“While at college I get to see what is going on in my friend’s daily lives,” Odett noted. “I know a lot of young people who use it — more for friends than dating though.”

Odett’s father uses Friendster to meet potential dates.

“My dad is single and Friendster definitely helps him meet people whether by age, location, occupation or martial status,” Odett said. “Friendster can be a great way for people to create a web of new friends while maintaining their old relationships.”

Students interested in learning more about social networking through the Internet can enroll in Communications 245, Psych and Social Computing, taught by Hancock; and Communications 345, Human-Computer Interaction Design, taught by Prof. Geraldine Gay, communications.

Archived article by Allison Markowitz