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The Social Network

U of M student develops alternative to Facebook.



Move over, Mark Zuckerberg. There's a new social network in town, developed by University of Memphis senior Antavius Flagg and his twin brother, Antonio.

Antavius, a 25-year-old liberal studies major, said he had no idea the website he and his brother created for residents of their hometown of Jackson, Tennessee, would blossom into an international social networking hub. But as of last week, the Flaggs' Night Fun Live! site featured more than 1,500 members from across the globe.

The brothers created the site last July to provide Jackson residents with information on local parties and other social events. But it quickly transformed into a forum for people around the world to chat on various topics.

Since its inception, the site — — has averaged an estimated 100 new members per week.

"The idea came to me after a great night on Beale Street," said Antonio, who lives in Jackson. "I wanted to create an environment online where people could be entertained or party online with people across the world. I see Night Fun Live! being the social network for the young and young at heart."

Although the networking site shares some similarities to Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, Antavius said Night Fun Live!'s mostly international membership sets it apart.

"The majority of our audience is people from other nations," Antavius said. "You have Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace. Those sites encourage people to befriend people that they already know. With our site, we try to incorporate that, but we also encourage friending and dialoguing with people from all over the world, like India and Africa.

"The only place we don't [have members from] is China because our site is blocked there. We encourage people to become more aware of the world as a whole, because it's so much bigger than the area you live in," Antavius said.

Antavius credits the site's success to Facebook users from other countries transitioning to Night Fun Live! and thus creating a snowball effect with their peers.

Since the site's main audience isn't American, more than 40 language translations are provided on the website, which members can access by clicking the toolbar at the bottom of each page.

Another thing that distinguishes the site from other networking sites is video conferencing. Night Fun Live! members can use the site to create their own video chat rooms.

Members can also check their Facebook and Twitter accounts from the website and even look for jobs in the U.S.

"Of course, you can't ignore the big elephant Facebook, but we don't see them as competition," Antavius said. "Night Fun Live! has a Facebook page, and we encourage our members to 'like' us on there."

The brothers are in the process of creating a mobile application of the website for iPhones and iPads, as well as expanding the job listings to feature international careers.

To join Night Fun Live!, members must be at least 13 years old and adhere to the site's regulations: no stalking, no spamming, and no profanity or vulgar uploads.

Although the site has only been live for less than a year, Antavius said he and his brother have big goals for 2012.

"A year from now, I hope to see even more membership," Antavius said. "Some people can't go a day without Facebook or tweeting, and we hope to have that same recognition. We hope people wake up and, before they eat breakfast, check what's going on at Night Fun Live!"

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