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Uspot For The College Set

Make way for a new spot in the crowded social-networking space.

Park City, Utah-based Uspot opened its doors today, claiming to be the social-networking sweet spot for college students using a .edu e-mail address. Todd Cohen, president of Uspot, believes his site will be the one place where students can satisfy and share all of their online social needs. The reason, he said, is media.

"It's all media," Cohen told internetnews.com. "All this media is going to be related to you, because it's a group of your peers. And people don't want to have to log into five different sites. So we're really giving students a way to share their video, music and photos."

Of course, other social-networking sites offer music- and photo-sharing capabilities. But Uspot, Cohen said, extends users' capabilities with podcasts, documents and blogs, as well as providing features within each media section that give users ultimate control over their content.

Take photos, for instance. Users can upload them through the browser, or they can download the Uspot Uploadr to select a batch at a time and append tags. Once the photos are in, users have the option of creating albums, sending them as e-cards to one or a number of users, and viewing them in a slideshow.

Another aspect of Uspot is podcasting. After users create a channel to categorize their podcasts, they can record into their individual Uspots with the Podcast Publishr; they also have the option of importing an MP3 file or an RSS feed. And, where there are podcasts, there are subscriptions. In addition to creating them, users can subscribe to as many as they like.

As for video, users can upload them to their pages after creating a channel as with the podcasts. They can tag their own videos, as well as view top videos, most recent ones or random files.

Students who create films, music or videos can use Artist Pages to develop a fan base, according to the company.

Users can create and subscribe to blogs and groups. Group hosts can control members' activities within the group. For example, they can decide whether members can invite friends, use the discussion feature or post podcasts, videos and documents.

Once these are all set, users can customize their profiles within Uspot, and visitors will see their content in organized sections on their pages. Other interactive features, according to Cohen, include instant messaging, e-mail, the ability to invite friends and colleagues to parties and campus events, electronic calendars and alerts to manage class schedules and lectures.

Social networking has been in the spotlight recently, but not only because of its popularity. Predators have used MySpace and other sites to victimize those who innocently or absent-mindedly post information that shouldn't be public.

Uspot has a multi-tiered approach to privacy, allowing users to control what the outside can see. They can also blacklist specific people.

"The best thing we can do is give the user the tool," Cohen said. "It's going to be harder to get away with things, because you only have one .edu address. You can only sign in with one account."

The college market is an advertising hotbed, because students have access to money, Cohen said. Combine that with the viral effect of social networking, and advertisers grin their ways to the bank.

"Companies are getting smarter in how to reach the audience," Cohen said. "Because of the way things can be spread throughout this site, these students actually become your best voice."



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