Next for Facebook: Pick your roommate

Lindsey Hoshaw

A new application launching this month on the popular networking Web site Facebook will allow students to search for compatible roommates.

The aim of Roommater is to bring together potential roommates online and spark that first conversation, said Paulette Trimmer, public relations specialist for Mpire, a meta-search company that is backing the application.

“”(It) isn’t a binding contract,”” Trimmer said of the application, which is free to Facebook users. “”It’s best for people moving in from out of town, or if you had a friend that backed out (of a rental agreement).””

Because Facebook users are not required to provide their contact information, and only friends have access to profiles, the system is purportedly risk-free, Trimmer said. Once users meet up, they’re on their own to make the interaction work.

“”Roommater is safer and more efficient than some traditional roommate resources such as local classifieds, Craigslist and bulletin board postings,”” said Matt Hulett, chairman and CEO of Mpire.

Initially, users search by zip code and area alerts appear if two users living in the same area search simultaneously.

Facebook members can also set preferences for potential roommates that include gender, target price range and pet preference.

Users can post personalized requirements in the comment box at the end of the page, to be viewed by potential roommates.

Danielle Brosch, an undeclared freshman, said she finds the Roommater service appealing.

“”I would definitely look at it,”” Brosch said. “”It would be nice to see people who have similar interests.””

Brosch has been a Facebook user since this summer and said she thinks there’s something integral to connecting with new people.

“”An important part of life is meeting different and random people,”” she said. “”It makes life more interesting.””

Stephen Ceasar, a sophomore majoring in journalism and communications, was more skeptical.

“”I’d rather room with someone I’d met before,”” he said. “”Everyone makes themselves out to be more interesting on the Internet. People put up a faÇõade.””

There’s also the trouble of what Nicos Toulett, a pre-business sophomore, calls the “”compatibility factor.””

“”There’s a difference between being compatible and liking the person,”” Toulett said.

Lars Rosvell, a doctorate candidate in music, was similarly wary.

“”I’m a bit skeptical about meeting online,”” he said. “”Call me old-fashioned, but it’s just so easy to lie.””