Facebook's Public Offering

As one of the more popular social networking nouns to be transformed into a verb, Facebook has come a long way in only a couple of years. The site is a popular college hangout, a bit like MySpace for the undergraduate community. Yes, that's right. There's a social networking site out there where folks can properly contract "you are" as "you're" and type in complete sentences.

Campus kids register with their confirmed .edu email addresses and go on to share their thoughts, wisdom, and keg-stand snapshots with students form the same university.

That may very well change now that Facebook is ready to open up the site beyond the halls of higher learning. Don't worry, my little Buckeye. The walled campus communities will continue to keep rival schools and deviant predators out of your face. According to Forbes, the move to open up the site is tied to offering up 500 regional networks where users can congregate with fellow locals.

Published reports are already circulating of the natives getting restless over the move. It's just Facebook's misfortune to be timing the bigger net toss after incorporating a news feed feature that backfired on the young company. By tracking changes in friend profiles, some users were alarmed that the feature was disrespecting their privacy.

"We really messed this one up," wrote founder Mark Zuckerberg in the site's blog last week.

The competition is already chomping at the bit as Facebook looks to go mainstream.

CNET Networks (Nasdaq: CNET  ) has added a College Live section to its Webshots photo-sharing site. News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS  ) MySpace.com is making the most of its ability to search for fellow college graduates. United Online's (Nasdaq: UNTD  ) Classmates.com was a pioneer in this field and dropped the ball, but I wouldn't be so quick to write it off while it still has time to catch up.

Facebook will have to be careful here. Ideally, this is the kind of move that would work better with a new domain name so that it appears as a stand-alone entity despite sharing Facebook's proven technology. Let's hope it doesn't flunk twice in the same semester.

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Longtime Fool contributorRick Munarrizis proud to be a Hurricane, aUniversityofMiami Hurricane. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Rick is a member of theRule Breakersanalytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its stage of defiance. The Motley Fool isinvestors writing for investors.


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