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 UMD Students and Internet Sites

The Social Buzz of Sharing Networks


Three websites are creating a buzz at UMD. Facebook, MySpace and YouTube are internet social networks that add dozens, even hundreds of college students to their membership every day. Over 90 percent of college students report using a social network site. In an informal survey of 22 UMD students and staff in the fall of 2006, 19 mentioned using either Facebook, MySpace, or YouTube daily. One user reported checking her Facebook account as often as 15 times a day; several others reported that they spent hours on the site daily.

YouTube is a video sharing site. Facebook and MySpace are social networking sites that provide a place for pictures, personal profiles, information, audio files, video files, and chat sessions.

Freshman Brianna Mellen said she uses Facebook weekly to talk to friends at other colleges. Bridget Noonan, a senior English major, is organizing her high school class reunion on a Facebook web group.

None of the sites mentioned have official UMD web pages, in fact Facebook's policy states that, "profiles are intended for use by a single individual. Groups, clubs, and other types of organizations are not permitted to maintain an account." MySpace also states that commercial and affiliate links will be removed.
Photo: Brianna Mellen shoots a video.

YouTube has a number of individual UMD links. SFA student Adam Warhol's video Duluth Sopranos captures the flavor of the city. A UMD jazz student made a video of the UMD jazz band at the North Sea Jazz Fest in Switzerland last summer. The UMD campus has been featured on a number of sites. Vermilion and Burntside Halls are visible in the video Slackline. A video submitted by the MFA Graphic Design students as advertisement for their program was made in A.B. Anderson Hall.

You don't have to be computer savy to network on a social website. Millions of people, young and old, use these sites and they are designed to be simple to use. YouTube has 20 million unique users per month, and reports 100 million videos viewed each day. Facebook, which recently opened their site to all users, not just those with "edu" email addresses. Facebook has almost 10 million users. MySpace, reported 106 million accounts as of September 2006 and is open to any and all users.

Not everything is positive on these sites. Because the sites are uncensored; some of the messages and videos can be inappropriate and unappealing. That has led the UMD Intercollegiate Athletics Department to forbid UMD athletes from using Facebook. Obvious dangers are inherent. Personal information posted online is available to internet stalkers, as well as friends. Numerous stories have been repeated about internship supervisors and future employers viewing questionable photos and blogs. UMD students who are interested in social networking might find the UMD ITSS guidelines helpful.

All of these websites allow users to share information with each other. With the recent purchase of YouTube.com by Google for $1.6 billion, big business is trying to cash in on the internet's most recent fad.

Social networks are simply another way to stay connected with family and friends. They join cell phones, text messaging, e-mail, and wireless internet as another tool to stay in touch. No one can predict their future popularity and, as with anything internet related, change is lighting fast. For proof that anything can happen, look at the rise of MySpace. It was created in 2004 and has risen to the e number one spot in internet use.

By Hannah Kroll and Cheryl Reitan

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan, creitan@d.umn.edu
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto, slatto@d.umn.edu, 218-726-8830

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