Facebook rival already has 500 GW members

While facebook.com has become an essential to college campuses, this year the most popular college networking Web site has a new rival.

Last month a group of students launched XuQa.com – a racier alternate social directory that has sparked competition between the two Web sites.

XuQa co-founder Ali Moiz, who graduated last year from Williams College in Massachusetts, created the new networking tool to give students what he believes is an easier way to connect through the Internet.

“It’s an alternative to the Facebook,” she said. “It allows more features and allows more things to do. We’ve been Facebook users for a while, and Facebook was the same old stuff. We wanted more.”

The XuQa site features “tickling” and “kissing” and focuses mostly on meeting “hookups” through the site, which goes far beyond the ambiguous Facebook “poke.”

There are currently more than 500 students using XuQa from GW. Even though it was started only a few weeks ago, its membership has exceeded 250,000 people, the site’s founders said.

Facebook does not feel threatened by the development of new sites such as XuQa, founder Mark Zuckerberg said.

“Facebook had over 8.5 million unique visitors in the month of September and is the tenth most trafficked site on the entire Internet, which is incredible,” he said. “We have seen no decrease in our user activity over the past few weeks, but instead, an increase, which would signal that XuQa has had no impact on our usage.”

The rivalry between Facebook and XuQa has been anything but discreet. Facebook recently e-mailed users, warning them about “spam and virus e-mails,” which XuQa founders said were just invitations to join their new Web site.

“A lot of our users told us about the e-mail Facebook sent out, and we felt that was a very underhanded and out-of-character thing for them to do,” Moiz said. “We’re not spamming, and we’re not a virus.”

On Friday, XuQa users were shown a new kind of “advertisement” when logging in, claiming that “Hundreds of thousands of users have switched over to XuQa from the Facebook and they’re really pissed about it,” referring to the online site’s angst about losing users to the new site.

Facebook is an online college social directory that is “keen on efficiency and usefulness,” spokesperson Chris Hughes said. It was created by Zuckerberg, a Harvard student in 2004, and more than 6,000 Harvard students joined in three weeks.

Given its overwhelming success, Facebook was opened up to surrounding colleges and universities and has extended its network to include more than 1,500 universities nationwide. GW has more than 14,000 registered users, and Facebook’s membership recently reached the 4 million mark.

GW students have differing opinions about the cyber war. Sophomore Amanda Ziobro said that although she was invited to join XuQa by a fellow sorority member last week, she said she thought the site was difficult to use.

“I tried to navigate it and it didn’t seem very user-friendly,” she said. “I really didn’t care to look into it. I’m happy with Facebook. It’s established. I feel more secure in it.”

Sophomore Michelle Costa agreed and said she was not intrigued by the new site, even though its features are more sexually oriented.

She said, “I just think Facebook is so much more comprehensive.”

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