CollegeOnly launched (in beta) yesterday at seven Ivy League colleges and universities including Princeton and Yale with this pitch: "Our site is the only one that is free from parents, potential employers, and other folks that shouldn't see what you are up to on a Saturday night or at any given point during the day."
CollegeOnly is restricted to students with verifiable college e-mail addresses.
Entrepreneur Josh Weinstein, based in NY and a Princeton alum, believes that his new service will be reminiscent of the early days of Facebook: "Facebook is different from what it used to be, which was pictures, interacting with people and seeing what's going on."
"We were thinking about a series of sites and connecting them like I Can Has Cheezburger. But then we realized one central social site for college students was the way to go. And then we realized we were building something to the effect of Facebook for college students," says Weinstein.
CollegeOnly says it was created in "response to the recurring chorus of 'I wish Facebook were-college only.'"
According to 2009 statistics, 96% percent of students use Facebook on a typical day.
Users can set up profiles, post photos -- and somewhat troubling, post anonymously so photo albums can be shared ... anonymously. Weinstein is excited about this CollegeOnly photo-sharing feature: "I think people will like it because they don't want to post their photos now for their employers, parents and high school siblings to see." Hmm ... and didn't we just hear Google CEO Eric Schmidt's warning that the amount of personal data people post on the internet will require future name changes to escape cyper-pasts?
"I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time. I mean we really have to think about these things as a society," said Schmidt.
Additional CollegeOnly preset categories include: "Missed Connections," shared gossip about classmates; "After Party," shared gossip about ... parties. Weinstein says there will 'light moderation' to weed out mean-spirited comments -- referencing the likes of the now defunct Juicy Campus message board.
Weinstein has two start-ups under his belt - also geared towards students: GoodCrush, a matchmaking service; and RandomDorm, for random video conversations.
CollegeOnly has impressive VC backing and has raised $1.15 million from Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder and Facebook investor, SoftBank Capital and FirstMark Capital and angel investors, including David Kidder, Clickable founder.
Weinstein says his network will complement Facebook and that CollegeOnly is "an opportunity to connect college students in ways that isn't being offered."
Rik Ferguson, a cyber security expert at Trend Micro comments: "The internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy we've ever had." He adds, "People are surprised to find out that an awful lot of people think that they're idiots."
Time will tell -- quickly -- if CollegeOnly is a better widget for students in a particular time of their lives -- or one more digital sand-trap with a long and checkered tail.
A version of this post originally published on www.brandchannel.com