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Facebook launches college-only service Campus in select US universities

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Social media giant Facebook has launched a new product called “Campus”, designed specifically for colleges, where it can be used as an internal social media platform. Campus has been launched at only a certain US-based universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, Brown University and Johns Hopkins University. Interestingly, Harvard University, on whose campus Facebook was founded in 2004, is not in the list of universities that will have Campus.

With Campus, Facebook is essentially returning to its roots. In its early days, Facebook was only available to students of Harvard universities and gradually expanded to other universities in the world and businesses. It was only in 2006 that company started allowing the general public to use Facebook.

The company, in its announcement on Thursday, claimed that Campus would help students across the US connect with their peers in light of the fact that many campuses have shifted to partial or full-time remote modes of learning.

Campus networks to be siloed by universities

Facebook Campus will only be available to users with valid university email IDs. Users will get a dedicated profile that is distinct from their main Facebook page. Once the Campus profile is activated, users would be able to discover groups and events pertaining only to their school. “When content is shared on Campus, only people within Campus will see it.”

Campus will also have a “News Feed” where the students can get updates from classmates, groups and events. Students will also have access to a classmates directory, where they can find students based on their class, major, year and more. Although, it may be noted that, only the graduating year is necessary for users to enter while creating a Campus profile. Other information such as major and class are optional fields.

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Facebook does not seem to have linked Campus with Instagram. Also, it has not yet announced plans to expand Campus to other schools.

Facebook assures Campus users of privacy

While making its announcement, Facebook assured students that whatever they put on Campus will be accessible only within the college community. It said: “Your name, profile photo, cover photo and hometown from your Facebook profile will be added to your Campus profile, but you can edit or remove your hometown from your Campus profile if you’d like.”

The company said that Campus Groups and Events would not be made public. Campus groups can either be open or private, but that would be within the confines of the college’s Campus community. Users are also allowed to block others on Campus, just like they do on Facebook.

The company emphasised that Campus was an “opt-in” service. “Every Campus profile contains your name, cover photo and profile photo from your Facebook profile, as well as your graduation year. All other fields are optional and you can choose what you want to include.”

However, just like other Facebook products, data collected from Campus profiles too could be used to personalise advertisements. Such personalisation could be taken over to users’ main Facebook profiles as well. In theory, Facebook could be able to offer localised college-specific ads to students.

Facebook has a similar product for workplaces

Facebook has been offering Workplace (earlier known as Facebook at Work) to offices across the world since 2018. It operates on similar principles as Campus, where each workplace is its own silo. In May 2020, the service reportedly had over 5 million paid users, according to a report by Fortune. The number of users seem to have grown greatly during the pandemic months. Workplace directly competes with Slack and Microsoft Teams, both of which are used for collaboration within offices.

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