As I flipped through the Daily Kent Stater last week, the advertisement above caught my attention – for more than one reason. First of all, I thought it was odd that I found an advertisement in a college newspaper claiming that Facebook sucks, considering almost all of the college students I know are borderline addicted to the site. Secondly, when I think of Facebook I personally don’t relate it to my parents, or old people, whatsoever. And thirdly, I find it hard to believe that college students make up only 30 percent of the Facebook community. But, that’s all besides the point. This ad caught my eye and made me curious enough to check out CollegiateNation.com for myself. After registering and exploring the site for a while, I found it to be pretty interesting. So, expanding on my previous post, I thought I’d share a little info about this new SM site and how CollegiateNation.com could be another useful social media outlet for college students, and only college students.
What Is It?
CollegiateNation.com is the first and only independent, uncensored and private community exclusively for college students, also known as “The Student-Exclusive Superpower.” Collegiate Nation began as an idea by a former Kent State University student (take that Harvard!) and implemented by an alumna of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The site is 100 percent student controlled and student supported. There are strict guidelines regarding who can register on the site. Users must be college students between the ages of 18 and 30 and must provide a valid college e-mail address or student ID number upon registration. At the end of the registration process, the site cleary outlines just how serious it is about keeping CN strictly a college network:
WARNING to University faculty, staff, and other persons with an “edu” address who are not students: Our Terms and Conditions stipulate that fraudulently representing yourself and infiltrating this website constitutes an UNLAWFUL ACT subject to prosecution. We retain the right to ask anyone with an “edu” address to also upload their student ID in the future.
What Makes It Different?
The biggest difference I see between this site and other social networking sites deals with the site’s privacy controls. Amidst the recent controversy surrounding Facebook privacy controls and how internet data is being stored more permanently, CollegiateNation.com promises premium privacy by allowing each student to retain total control and ownership of all personal data and site submissions. In other words, “What’s Yours, Stays Yours.”
Another big difference is that this site is not completely free. Users can sign up at no cost as “Contributors,” giving them access to the site but with reduced privileges, such as restricted access to the site’s entertainment areas. In order to receive full site access, users must become “Citizens,” requiring them to pay a $6 fee each month or a discounted price of $45 a year. Students are asked to pay a fee to replace the need for advertisements because, according to CN’s creators, “when corporations inject advertising dollars into any organization, they gain influence. Censorship and control is never far behind. At CN our only focus is You. Our goal is to make sure every college student has the opportunity to communicate freely, be entertained and openly express opinions, whatever they may be, free of outside financially-linked judgments.” The site doesn’t allow any type of data mining, user tracking, or any other technology where advertisers can monitor people and their viewing patterns.
What’s In It For Us?
So, what would make college students want to sign up, and potentially pay for, yet another social media site that upon first glance seems to be nothing more than a combination of Facebook, YouTube and online news? Below is a brief list of what the site has to offer:
- Strict controls on who can join the Nation. Premium privacy.
- A platform for you to exercise power and influence others through your stories, videos, photos, opinions and insights.
- A central location for all collegiate-related news, entertainment, communication and media sharing.
- A respected news source completely reported and produced by college students, where YOU become an instant Citizen Journalist.
- A focal point to promote your new music, new writing, new art forms, new ideas and create the future you want.
- Creative and fun on-line competitions.
- The world’s only dedicated collegiate brand that represents the individual identity of every collegiate student, no matter what you are studying or where.
- A company literally governed by the wishes of its collegiate community.
You can find an extended list of CN’s benefits here.
I think that this site is a very interesting concept, giving students a place to learn from and network with each other; a place where we become the media and can decide what’s newsworthy to us. I especially like the fact that I have the ability to completely control who sees my information and can post anonymously if I’d like. However, I’m a little concerned that this site won’t be able to follow through on its promise to not sell out to big corporate advertisers. I’m also not sure if I’m willing to pay a fee in order to access all the areas on the site, even though it is such a small amount, when there are plenty of other social networks available for free.
Nonetheless, I’m curious to see whether or not Collegiate Nation will succeed. Have you heard about this site? Would you be willing to pay a small fee for complete site access? Do you think this site has the potential to become more popular than Facebook among college students? I’m interested in hearing your opinions, so please feel free to speak your mind!