Facebook is getting back to its roots today with the launch of a new product called Campus, a section of the main app specifically designed for college students. Campus is designed to be a place where students can interact only with peers at their school; they can access a Campus-only News Feed and join Groups, events, and group chat rooms, called Campus Chats, pertaining to campus life. In a nod to the original Facebook, they’ll even have access to a “Campus directory” where they can find and friend other students.
In order to access Campus, Students have to provide their .edu email address as well as their graduation year, and once they’re in, they’ll create a new profile specifically for the section, although their usual profile and cover photos will follow them to Campus. They’ll also have the option to add or remove their major, classes, hometown, dorm, and minor. The more information they add, the more they’ll be able to find classmates with commonalities, which also, of course, gives Facebook more data about what the college students are studying and who they’re talking to, which informs its ad targeting decisions. Charmaine Hung, PM of Campus, says the team opted for a separate profile because students might not want to share hyper-specific college information on their public profile.
For now, Campus is being piloted with 30 universities around the US, including Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, University of Louisville, Vassar, and Virginia Tech. (No Harvard, though!) These students won’t be able to interact with each other, and neither will students from nearby colleges. For now, Campus is siloed so that only people who attend the same school can see and interact with each other.
Although the Campus profile is notably walled off from Facebook proper, if a student has blocked another person on their normal Facebook, that setting will apply to Campus, too, and vice versa. If a person violated Facebook’s community standards outside of Campus, they also won’t be able to join the section. Alumni will be allowed to stay on Campus, although Facebook will send a notification that suggests they leave Campus because it won’t be as relevant to them.
Campus might be one way Facebook tries to keep students and younger people on the original Facebook app and engaged for longer. At the same time, it’s building off behavior Facebook says it’s already seen on the platform. Students already form Groups for their classes, dorms, and interests, so Facebook is streamlining the process and taking more control over how students find each other. Still, Facebook interestingly didn’t build any Instagram integration into the Campus pilot, which effectively sets the Facebook app up as the central Campus focus and an absolute requirement if students want to find their peers.
Update 9/10, 11:07 AM ET: Facebook originally provided an image that contained placeholder text; we’ve updated the main image to reflect the actual text.