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Jonathan Ringen, an assistant editor at Metropolis, is a new member.“I signed on to Friendster and after some quick browsing discovered that everybody I know is on this thing,” he says.By May, just three months after its beta release, the site had grown to over 300,000 users.In practice, Friendster is far different from its file-sharing cousin.If one looks interesting, you can click it for a full profile.With another click you can send a message, though the site safeguards your e-mail address to thwart unwanted come-ons.On Friendster people can check out your credentials, meaning that someone can ask your friend, ‘What’s the deal with this person? You couldn’t get away with meeting someone on Friendster, sleeping with her, and never calling her back.There’s a net behind you.” Friendster is beginning to impact real-life socializing in intriguing ways.
But it is expanding for the same reason Napster did—members have an interest in making it more popular, because that means there’s more to trade.But although you could use it to meet a fellow Scrabble aficionado or an ultimate Frisbee partner, the site ends up being largely about dating.“For every one user of online dating services, there are probably 10 people who would use Friendster because they’re more comfortable with the approach,” says company founder Jonathan Abrams. It’s a little more like real life.” Harris Danow, a development assistant at Miramax, has used online personals services but prefers Friendster. It’s called Friendster, not ‘Fuckster’ or ‘Makeoutster,’ ” he says.People who join post profiles of themselves including photos, interests, favorite books, TV shows, and movies.Browse someone’s profile—anyone within three degrees of separation is fair game—and you also see thumbnail pictures of their friends.
“It’s interesting that now, when I go out to social gatherings, it seems as if just about everyone is on Friendster,” says James Meetze, a publisher from Oakland, California.