Facebook Allows All Web Surfers to Join Network

Facebook.com, the United States’ second-largest social networking site behind MySpace.com, will in October do away with previous regulations that barred certain Web surfers from registering with the site, and any person with a valid e-mail address will be able to post a profile and communicate with other users, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Facebook’s user base is made up mostly of college students, as it initially restricted site registration to people with “.edu” e-mail addresses—or addresses associated with an academic entity. A few months ago, the site decided to offer membership to some specific parties, including a handful of major firms, nonprofits and members of the U.S. armed services.

The site currently boasts about 9 million total users, according to the Journal, and some of them have been putting pressure on the site in recent days to open its pages to more Web surfers because they want to connect with people who don’t qualify for Facebook registration.

Facebook is looking to expand; however, the move could have an inverse effect, because some of its success has been based on the feelings of exclusivity its users felt in the past.

In October, following Facebook’s planned move, new users will still need to link up with one of upwards of 500 regional networks meant to limit the amount of information users can access on each other, Melanie Deitch, a Facebook spokeswoman, told the Journal.

Just last week, Facebook made national headlines after making controversial changes to its site that enabled people to more easily track other users. Some 500,000 Facebook users inked a petition requesting that the site do away with the new features. In response, Facebook added a new privacy safeguard that granted users some control over who can access their information.

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