Facebook The Nation

(AP Photo)
Want to share your feelings about a certain "Evening News" anchor who is making news today? You could sound off on your blog. You leave a comment below. Or you could join a group on Facebook, the social networking site that is quietly taking over the world.

There you'll find, count 'em, 67 Katie Couric-related groups to join, among them "Katie Couric is Amazing!," "Katie Couric, You Sexy Goddess, Stop Wearing Frumpy Duds!," and the mysterious "In favor of Morbo replacing Katie Couric as the CBS Evening News anchor."

Facebook used to be just for students, but now it's open to everyone, and journalists have been quick to get in on the action. One theory of why that is came from Time's Ana Marie Cox, who suggested to Howard Kurtz on "Reliable Sources" this weekend there's something slightly elitist about the site: "an imprimatur of kind of little bit of being in the know, let's say."

And then there's the fact that, unlike on many Internet sites (and rival MySpace), you have to be up-front about who you are on the site – which allows journalists to play around online without nasty, anonymous missives being lobbed in their direction. (Here's the video of the "Reliable Sources" discussion, a link to which just appeared on my Facebook page.)

There's also something profoundly silly about the whole thing, of course. Cox is my friend on Facebook – our connection, according to the site, is "You met randomly: [she] mocked him," which, to be fair, isn't that far from the truth. Today in my "newsfeed" -- a glorified list of what your compatriots are up to -- I learned that Cox "added 'The Shins' to her favorite music." In addition to posting sometimes-embarrassing pictures of themselves on the site, people can keep their friends jarringly up to date on their daily activities: One friend recently posted the pressing news that she "is playing Scrabble."

But as a networking tool, the site looks like a hit – the blog network Gawker recently mandated that all its employees join, editors of "The Guardian" have become avid users, and news organizations like The Washington Post have their own networks. (Quick lesson in Facebook 101: If you are a member of a particular network, you can access the Facebook page of everyone else in that network. The Post's network has 428 members and counting.) Our colleagues' rush to join the site is probably good news for us journalist types, though it could mean an exacerbation of the journalistic tendancy towards groupthink. As Jeff Jarvis told Kurtz:

"The newsfeed is really not about the wisdom of the crowd that we talk about…the wisdom of the whole crowd, the whole Internet. Now it's the wisdom of my crowd. So if I see that Ana Marie has suddenly signed up for a new app, and Ana Marie is smart and she knows what's hip, I can now go look at that too. And it's her way of telling her friends, look what I found."